Last updated: January 30. 2014 3:51PM - 1355 Views
By Emily Jarrett ejarrett@civitasmedia.com

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Two years after first proposing the building to the Sedalia City Council, the Sedalia Fire Department’s Fire Station No. 2 is open for business.

The $3.9 million, 13,000-square-foot project still has a few finishing touches to go but SFD crews have been running out of the building since Friday and the administrative staff has been moved in for about a week.

“I’d say it’s between 95 and 98 percent complete, we’re not quite there yet, but we can see the finish line,” said SFD Chief Mike Ditzfeld.

The fire station — which will replace the current 40-year-old Station No. 2 and be the SFD’s headquarters — has been an ongoing project for Ditzfeld and Deputy Chief Greg Harrell for the last several years. After getting approval for the project from council, a land agreement had to be approved through the Missouri State Legislature, a measure that was not completed until the last day of the 2012 session. Weather setbacks also plagued the station, which Ditzfeld estimated was about three months behind schedule.

On Wednesday during a special presentation to city officials and members of the media, however, Ditzfeld and Harrell were both all smiles as they showed off the new building, which includes eight bunkrooms, a large kitchen and living area, a work out room, laundry facilities and an administrative wing.

SFD Firefighter/EMT Josh Nelson said his favorite aspect of the new building was the dedicated work out room.

“I was bringing equipment from home and we had everything set up in the bunkroom (at the old station),” he said. “So it’s nice to have new equipment, first, but also a place to do it. The whole building is a huge upgrade for us, we’re pretty excited to finally be able to move in and get going.”

Ditzfeld touted a new classroom facility, which will be used for both in-house training and can be rented out to community members for trainings and other classes.

“For the first time ever, the fire department will have completely self-contained training,” he said. “Before we had to go to several different places for ongoing training or recruitment testing, but now we’ll be able to do everything right here, saving us a lot of time and money.”

Three classes are already scheduled next month for the room, Harrell added. The building’s three-story training tower, which will be completed in late March, will also be used for department training and will allow firefighters to practice repelling, ground ladders and other rescue techniques.

The SFD staff also showed off the department’s new 100-foot ladder truck. Delivered in November, the $1 million truck has been housed in the ProEnergy hangar at the Sedalia Regional Airport for the last two months until the station’s bay could be completed. It features the latest in firefighting technology and can pump 2,000 gallons of water per minute, Harrell said. It will replace the current 15-year-old 75-foot ladder truck, which will be put into reserve.

“We’ll be the only community in central Missouri that has a reserve ladder truck,” Ditzfeld said. “So if we have a big fire, we can bring out both trucks if needed, or if another city puts in a call for assistance, we’ll be able to lend out the truck while making sure that we have a truck here in Sedalia.”

The new truck will not be put into service until SFD officials have undergone extensive training, which is scheduled for next month.

“There’s quite a bit to learn on this truck,” Ditzfeld said. “It’s bigger, not only the length but it’s also 12-feet 9-inches tall, so navigating it is going to take some learning.”

Harrell estimated about three-fourths of the department would take part in training for the truck and emphasized it was a factor in the city keeping its Class 3 ISO rating, which is tied to insurance rates.

“We were very close, getting our Class 3 rating a few years ago,” he said. “The fact that we have the new truck, training facilities on site and the classroom, all of those things are going to be major benefits when we have to go back to renew that in a few years.”

Harrell also pointed out several area fire departments have looked at both the new station and truck plans.

“Our fire truck manufacturer said eight or nine departments across the country have used our specifications for the truck as a starting point, adding or taking off the options they want,” he said. “The same with the station, we’ve given informal tours to chiefs from other departments in Kansas City, Jefferson City and Atchison, Kan. I know the department in Atchison liked the station a lot and are going to use a lot of our ideas.”

Ditzfeld said demolition on the old Station No. 2 could begin as early as next week, then landscaping and final concrete work will be completed, with the entire project scheduled to be finished by summer.

“From the beginning, this building was designed to be a 50-year fire station,” Ditzfeld said. “We have room to grow and expand here.”

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