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Center Township set to break ground on fire station

March 22, 2018 GMT

La PORTE — Center Township officials are excited about starting construction on a $2.4 million fire station about a mile west of the existing station.

A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at 4504 W. Johnson Road.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski said. “Yes, it costs tax money, but in the long run it gets the station where it needs to be and we’re making sure not only that residents are safe but that our firefighters are safe too.”

Surrounding development blocks expansion at the existing fire station, which was built in the 1960s off a curve on Johnson Road east of the Indiana Toll Road where firefighters have had to back trucks into the bays.

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“It just wasn’t a good location,” Pierzakowski said.

The new facility will be west of the Indiana Toll Road on about 7.7 acres, allowing for community activities and training on the grounds.

Like the old station, the new facility will have three vehicle bays, but they will be bigger and designed as drive-throughs so no backing will be necessary.

The township acquired a lot from the state several years ago to build a new station, Pierzakowski said, but the discovery of a storm drain meant the township had to purchase an additional 4 acres.

The new station will include showers and beds that fold into the wall, features not available in the existing station, along with a meeting room.

Pierzakowski said the addition of beds and showers will allow for the transition one day from an all-volunteer department to a part-time paid force, ensuring staffing during the day when so many people work and are unavailable to respond to emergency calls.

Beds and showers also allow firefighters to clean up after responding to a fire and will make the station more accommodating during long weather emergencies or if residents need shelter.

Fire Chief Marc Christiano said the township has simply outgrown the existing station.

“Trucks are bigger nowdays,” he said.

The department has 17 volunteer firefighters and mutual-aid agreements with Springfield and Coolspring township departments.

A wall on the old station is splitting and the roof is in disrepair, all issues that will go away with the new station.

Pierzakowski said the township board received access to draw-bond funding in October 2016 and has been working through issues so it can finally begin construction.

The township accepted a bid from Larson-Danielson Construction in La Porte but has been working with the company to cut about $200,000 from the cost of the project to bring it within budget.

Pierzakowski said the township may trim the size of a large meeting room in the station to reduce costs.

Completion is scheduled for December.