MOUNT WASHINGTON — Things are cramped at Mount Washington Fire Protection District’s Station 1 on Bardstown Road.
There’s no room for new equipment and sections of the station’s main bays are used to store training and maintenance equipment that is important but isn’t used for emergency response.
Fire chief Michael Dooley and the district’s Board of Trustees agree it’s time to expand the station, which serves as the department’s main base.
Recently the board voted to move forward with phase I of a three-phase construction proposal.
Phase 1 plans include a new training/storage building.
Phases two and three have yet to be formally approved, but include renovations to the existing firehouse and connecting the department’s administrative building and the main station.
The project is estimated currently to cost at just over $1 million.
The board voted in August to proceed with phase I plans presented by Keyes Architects and Associates.
The first phase will focus on what the board agreed was the departments greatest need: a more adequate training area and more equipment storage.
The proposed building will be located behind the existing firehouse on district property and includes pull-through auxiliary bays for equipment, lawn equipment storage, a general maintenance/shop area, storage, an additional restroom and training storage.
The building is also designed to accommodate several different training exercises and will include a maze, safety and survival props and a ventilation training area.
Dooley said the new building would alleviate many of the station’s overcrowding problems and would allow the staff to have a more adequate training area.
“It’s just crammed in there. When the station was built we were only required to keep two engines in the city. And when the station was built we didn’t have paid 24-hour staff,” he said.
Dooley said Station 1 was built 15 years ago and the district’s needs have well outgrown the its main station.
The department is required to do safety and survival training as well as administer a candidate physical agility test.
Fire fighters are also required to exercise every shift, and there’s no room for the equipment.
“We have no where to store it with our lawnmower, the (fire safety prevention) trailer. We’ve ran out of room,” he said.
Dooley said the district has also ordered a new fire truck because the department’s equipment is aging. He said currently there’s no room to store it at Station 1.
Board Chairman Melvin Davis said he and other members have discussed the expansion for several months.
A financing plan is being formulated and Davis said the board doesn’t anticipate the expansion would require a district tax increase.
He said the board wasn’t sure how much money it could earmark for the project but anticipated needed some outside financing.
“We are probably going to have to borrow some from a bank,” Davis said.
Keyes Architects gave a preliminary estimate of between $600,000 and $700,000 to construct the new storage/training facility. A more definite cost estimate couldn’t be given until decisions are made on what building materials will be used for the project.
Davis said the board was moving in the right direction.
“We’re just trying to keep up with the growth of the community,” he said.
Board members said they wanted more time to investigate the next phases of the project before proceeding. However, it was agreed the department needed additional storage and training areas as soon as possible.
A definite completion date has yet to be identified.
Dooley said with the district’s growth, the sooner the addition was built, the better it would be for the department.
“Since (Station 1) was built, our run average was 150 to 250 runs a year. Now our runs have went up to 640 a year. We’ve got more people and more runs,” he said.