Springfield looking to build three new fire stations, replace old ones

Springfield firefighters have to be careful when opening the doors on the fire engine because the garage bay is so small at Fire Station 3 on Selma. That station is looking to be replaced as the City of Springfield plans to build three new stations. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Springfield firefighters have to be careful when opening the doors on the fire engine because the garage bay is so small at Fire Station 3 on Selma. That station is looking to be replaced as the City of Springfield plans to build three new stations. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The City of Springfield is looking to build three new fire stations in an effort to modernize its facilities and replace some that have been in service for decades.

At least two of those new stations will be built on Burt Street and South Limestone Street. Locations are still being scouted for the third one, but city officials are looking at the east side of Springfield.

Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said that each of the new fire stations will cost between $3 million and $5 million to build.

Springfield fire fighter Skyler Baise checks his mirrors as he backs the fire engine into the tiny garage bay at Fire Station #3 Thursday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
Springfield fire fighter Skyler Baise checks his mirrors as he backs the fire engine into the tiny garage bay at Fire Station #3 Thursday. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Springfield Fire Chief Brian Miller said the city has been looking to replace some of its fire stations for more than a decade. However, projected costs in the past have prevented new stations being built.

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Many of the seven current fire stations in the city are decades old and some such as Fire Station 3 on Selma Road cannot accommodate newer fire engines since those models are too big.

The Springfield Fire Division currently has 124 firefighters, but is looking to hire an additional 8 to 10 by the end of the year, Heck said.

The city plans on using money from the American Rescue Plan to supplement the costs of building new fire stations. The city will receive a total of $44.2 million in those federal relief dollars and has until 2024 to allocate money for projects and expenditures. The deadline to spend that money is December 2026.

Miller said the federal relief money will allow them to build three stations during the same time period, something that would not have been possible before. New stations will also be located in areas that will allow firefighters to better service residents.

That can help reduce response times for fire and EMS services in the city, he added.

Heck said by investing in new fire stations it allows the fire division to modernize its operations as well as have the space to house new equipment.

A plaque on the outside of Fire Station No. 3. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
A plaque on the outside of Fire Station No. 3. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“It is important that we look strategically on how we reinvest money into the community. That includes focusing on lasting assets,” he added.

The goal is to start construction on at least two of the new stations by 2022. It is unclear when those new stations will be operational as the city is still in the early stages of the project.

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Springfield City Commissioners conducted a first reading this week on two ordinances that if passed would authorized Heck into entering into a purchase agreement for real estate regarding two properties that would be the site for two of the new fire stations.

The Springfield Fire Division has to use an old fire engine at Station No. 3 because a new truck won't fit in the tiny garage bay. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Caption
The Springfield Fire Division has to use an old fire engine at Station No. 3 because a new truck won't fit in the tiny garage bay. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

One is for property on 811 Burt Street for an amount not to exceed $300,000, while the other is for a former Wendy’s location at 2040 South Limestone Street for an amount not to exceed $314,500.

Commissioners are expected to vote on those ordinances at their next public meeting on Aug. 31.

Miller said the new stations would replace existing ones and allow them to modernize their facilities for a more diverse workforce such as the five female fire fighters with the city. That includes washrooms and other accommodations.