The Merrill Fire Department will be loading up the moving trucks Feb. 3-4 and setting up shop in the brand new fire station at the corner of Pier and First streets.
The final touches are being put on the new building, as the epoxy is being applied to the apparatus bay floors. After the construction work is done, the building will be cleaning in preparation for the fire department to move in. A ribbon cutting is scheduled for Feb. 6.
The Merrill Fire Department has historically manned two fire stations, an arrangement that ended in 2012 when the city sold the west side fire station to Agra Industries.
“We’re looking forward to having everything under one roof,” said Fire Chief Dave Savone.
Unlike the current station, the new facility is designed with a space for everything the department uses. Only fire and EMS vehicles will be kept on the apparatus bay floor.
“There will be no storage in the apparatus bay, only fire apparatus and turnout gear,” Savone said.
Separate rooms off the apparatus bay are provided for hose storage, lawn and garden equipment, EMS supplies, tools and a decontamination station. Instead of hanging the hoses to dry from a hose tower, the new facility features a hose dryer.
The buiding’s systems are designed for energy efficiency. A huge generator is capable of running the entire facility, should Merrill experience an extended loss of power.
A brand new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) compressor has been installed in the new fire station. The department’s old compressor, which was reaching 35 years old, was donated to Northcentral Technical College for the Public Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill. The new compressor was one of many pieces of new equipment purchased with funds donated by the Bierman Family Foundation.
“They really let us do a lot of things we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” Savone said.
The apparatus bay itself features in-floor heating, diesel fume extractors and radiant heat in the ceiling. The bay is designed so that all rigs can go out of any door.
While it isn’t functional, the original fire pole from Station 1 has been installed in the new fire station.
A physical fitness room is filled with brand new equipment for the firefighters to use to stay in shape.
“A healthy firefighter better serves the citizens,” Savone said.
The facility includes five bathrooms, an upgrade over the two bathrooms in the current station.
The department’s captains will now each have their own work area in an open office. The office room will have monitors to give the status of all the department’s vehicles at any time.
Having taught fire services at colleges, Savone is especially excited to have a state-of-the-art training room in the new fire station. The training room will be used not only for continuing education for firefighters, but also to provide classes to the public. The Merrill Fire Department teaches CPR and First Aid classes for various groups in Merrill. The training room also will be available as a backup Emergency Operation Center for the county.
Artifacts of the fire department’s history will be on display in the training room.
The housing area for firefighters is a bug upgrade over the old station. Merrill firefighters work 48-hour shifts, eating and sleeping at the station.
A new commercial kitchen features three refrigerators, one for each shift, and two microwaves. The kitchen is set up to handle the cooking needs of the seven-man shift. Next to the kitchen is a day room where firefighters can relax in the evenings while on duty.
The sleeping area has nine bunkrooms, shared by one firefighter from each of the three shifts.
The 100-year-old Fire Station 1 is being considered as a new home for Merrill Transit.