Construction zone

FD fire station expands to accommodatediverse crew

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Dan Ball, at left, owner of Ball Plumbing, and EJ Ball, at right, work on installing sewer lines at the new addition to the Fort Dodge fire station Friday afternoon.

Back in 1965 when the Fort Dodge fire station was being built, the profession wasn’t as diverse as it is now.

There were no female firefighters and it shows in the way the accommodations for the crews were designed.

There was one big dorm room and an open locker/shower room.

“There were no doors,” Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter said. “It was all male.”

Times have changed. The department now has six female firefighters and EMTs and the new addition currently under construction will address that fact.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Fire Chief Steve Hergenreter surveys the construction area where crews are building a new addition to the fire station.

“It features bathroom and bedrooms that will accommodate our diverse work force,” Hergenreter said.

Instead of a large dorm room, the new addition features individual rooms for one firefighter each. There are also separate bathrooms/locker rooms.

The plumbing in the original building dates to its construction. Hergenreter said backups and clogs are common. He said that there are also leaks which get water into the basement.

“It can be out for hours, the fixtures are original,” he said. “We’re very excited to have it updated.”

The new addition will have a fitness room. Currently, firefighters work out in one of the truck bays or in the basement. They have to move a truck outside to use the space.

“It’s not ideal,” the chief said of the current setup.

He said having a fitness room is important for the firefighters.

“We’re expected to be fit for duty,” he said. “It’s a big part of our culture.”

During the construction, the area used for parking has been fenced off. Hergenreter said that it has not been a problem.

“We have a couple of good neighbors,” he said. “Webster Glass is letting us park across the street and the warehouse owner next door is letting us park there as well. We also have some spaces on 16th Street.”

Hergenreter said the addition is expected to be finished in November.

Jensen Builders Ltd., of Fort Dodge, has a $1,331,500 contract for the job.

Once phase one is completed,“Then they come in and take out the old bathrooms and bedroom,” he said.

“What used to be the bedroom will become the dayroom and what used to be the bathroom will become our training room,” he added. ”It’s going to be about 33 percent larger.”

The current training room used to be part of the bedroom. Several of the rooms in the old building no longer serve their original purpose, including his office.

“This used to be dispatch,” he said. “We had our own dispatching until 1998.”

Hergenreter said that he’s proud of the job Jensen Builders Ltd. and its subcontractors are doing.

“They’ve been awesome,” he said. “Even with this weather they’re right on schedule.”

Will he miss the old bathrooms, locker room and improvised exercise room in old building?

“I don’t think so,” he said.