COLUMBUS, Neb. – With cramped spaces, tiny storage closets and a building over 80 years old, Columbus Fire Chief Dan Miller says a new facility is a necessity.
“The building was really built for smaller, older types of firetrucks and ambulances and now they’re all much larger pieces of equipment,” says Miller.
Residents will vote in May to approve two buildings in a joint vote, a new police station located downtown and a fire station in west Columbus, that would be 10,000 sq. ft. larger than the current facility. The buildings would be funded off issuing bonds from the current sales tax rate.
The current fire building, located near Frankfort Square, forces emergency personnel to navigate around the trucks in tight gaps and live in quarters that were last re-modeled around 40 years ago.
“We find ways to build things higher, then we have to use ladders to get to them,” says Miller.
It’s also connected to the old civic auditorium and senior center that has seen its better days.
“As that part of the building has deteriorated, this building has kind of gone with it as well,” says Miller.
The city hopes the change will allow the department to meet the goal of a four to six minute response time for all calls. That’s why they also plan on manning Charlie Louis station, located on the east side of town, to serve the more industrial part of Columbus.
“Incidents that we have in that area usually require more manpower, more equipment because they’re larger natured incidents,” says Miller.
The new station would also provide a de-contamination facility, something that is becoming standard in fire stations nationwide. This would allow the hazardous products on firefighters gear to be carefully removed before they re-enter the living space.
“So that they don’t carry those cancer-causing products, either into the fire station, the rest of the way, or home with them,” says Miller.
The station that would be located just off Howard Blvd. would also give workers improved living quarters, office space, larger training spaces, a work-out facility, along with accessible parking.
If approved, Miller thinks the community will be able to notice the difference.
“A faster, more impactful and sizable response to all parts of the community, that need that response desperately,” says Miller.