Major overhaul is planned for FD firehouse

Three $700K phases will total about $2.1M

The Fort Dodge firehouse would be modernized and expanded over several years at a cost of about $2.1 million under a master plan introduced to the City Council Monday evening.

The plan would add up-to-date bathrooms and sleeping quarters for a department that now has both male and female firefighters. It would also eliminate leaky and failing plumbing.

The master plan would also provide better separation between the areas where firefighters sleep and eat and the areas where there is diesel exhaust and contaminants from fire scenes.

The money for the work would come from general obligation bond issues. Some work on the first phase of the project may be done this year.

The firehouse at 1515 Central Ave. was built in 1965 and was occupied in early 1966. An addition onto the south side was constructed about 10 years ago.

Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter told the council that the upgrades are needed to address plumbing problems, the newly diverse workforce in the Fire Department, health and safety issues and the variety of tasks a modern fire department performs.

“The plumbing throughout that building is just shot,” Hergenreter said.

“The bathroom sinks are plugged up as we speak and someone is down there right now trying to unplug them,” he told the council members.

According to the chief, the plumbing consists of galvanized pipes that are embedded in the building’s block walls. When there are leaks, and there have been many of them recently, it is impossible to find them because the pipes are buried in the walls, he said.

The master plan, designed by Chris Behrends, an architect with Sande Design, of Humboldt, calls for essentially abandoning that plumbing by installing new water and sewer lines into an addition onto the building’s southeast side that will house the sleeping quarters and bathrooms.

City Manager David Fierke summed up the plan’s approach to the poor plumbing as abandoning it where it is and leaving it alone.

The first phase of the effort, which Hergenreter called the “priority one project” includes these elements:

• Constructing an addition onto the southeast side of the building to house the sleeping quarters.

• Turning the area that is now the captain’s and lieutenant’s offices into three or four bathrooms, each with a sink, toilet and shower.

• Replacing the boiler.

• Installing a new water main.

• Installing a new sanitary sewer.

The estimated cost of that work is $698,369.

A second phase would include an addition on the building’s northeast side to house, among other things, physical fitness equipment now kept in the basement and the fire truck garage.

The third phase would include an addition onto the building’s northwest side to house administrative offices. That phase would also include a new roof for the entire building.

Those later phases are estimated to cost about $700,000 each.

Fierke and the city staff are preparing a general obligation bond issue for council action that would include money for the first phase of the project.

That bond issue and the firehouse project will return to the council for action in the future.