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Council discusses new fire station

April 4, 2018 GMT

On Monday night, the Beatrice City Council discussed the potential for a new station for Beatrice Fire and Rescue and the steps the city would need to take to make it happen.

While there are still details that need to be worked out, like location and cost, the city is getting serious about bringing the new fire station to the public for a bond measure at the November ballot.

The current fire station beneath the City Auditorium opened in 1965 and the apparatus bay used by Beatrice Fire and Rescue as well as Beatrice Rural Fire isn’t big enough for all the vehicles needed said fire chief Brian Daake. The current apparatus bay has 6,000 square feet of garage space, but consulting firms have said the department would need anywhere from 10,000-16,000 square feet, Daake said.

“Right now, in our most congested bay, we’ve got four fire trucks, the ambulance and a mutual aid air trailer that all have to come out of that door,” Daake said. “So, if we have to get the hazmat truck out, we have to move four vehicles to get that thing out of the way, which does not help us provide the service that we do with the community.”

Daake said that Beatrice Fire and Rescue and representatives from the city have been in talks with companies from Lincoln who are working pro bono to review the needs of the station. About 25,000-30,000 is the ballpark range of what the companies are suggesting, Daake said.

Daake also said that they’d recently met with Beatrice Rural Fire who are on board for a new fire station and were willing to attach themselves to some financial commitment as well.

The city has been talking about a new fire station for quite some time, said city administrator Tobias Tempelmeyer. If the city is going to take the next step to be ready for the November, they’ll have to make some decisions before submitting to the county clerk.

When it comes to construction, Tempelmeyer said there were three options available. There’s the design, bid, build method where the city would hire an architect to design the building, then go out to bid for a construction company who would then build it, the design-build method—as used on the Carnegie Building and at the Beatrice High School House of Orange—where a firm would design the building and build it and the construction manager at risk method where the design and construction are separate contracts and would have a guaranteed maximum price.

“Ultimately, if you’re going to take this thing out for a vote, we’ve got to know a dollar amount,” Tempelmeyer said. “We’ve got to know how much we’re going to be asking for. We don’t want to ask for too little that we can’t complete the project and we don’t want to ask for too much either.”

Councilman Rich Kerr said that if the city is going to try for a bond measure, they’re going to have to sell it to the public. Mayor Stan Wirth said that it would help to have some sort of conceptual drawing to show what the building would look like in order to have something tangible for the public to see what they’re voting on.

Tempelmeyer said they’d work with designers and the fire department to determine things like how big a footprint the building would need, how many bays the station would need and to find out what the needs and cost would be.

Councilman Dwight Parde asked if there was a chance that Beatrice Rural could stay at the current station, and Tempelmeyer said that they could, but it would depend on the needs of the city. If the fire department moves out, other departments would be ready to move in, he said.

“Hopefully within two weeks we can sit down and meet again and kind of decide what we want to do and how we’re going to move forward,” Wirth said. “I kind of like the idea of maybe getting an architect onboard and just getting the process started.”