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WB's Fire Station No. 3 to be rebuilt

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 27, 2016

 The kitchen in Fire Station No. 3 lacks storage space for cookware and food.

The kitchen in Fire Station No. 3 lacks storage space for cookware and food.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WEST BLOOMFIELD —  West Bloomfield’s oldest fire station no longer meets the needs of the crew members or the community. 

That is why the West Bloomfield Fire Department is in the beginning stages of designing a more effective building to replace Fire Station No. 3 — located at 3340 Green Lake Road in West Bloomfield.

“We need to be responsible and build a station that will not just meet the needs we currently have, but meet the needs down the road,” Fire Chief Greg Flynn said. “We’re going to take our time.” 

In January, an engineering study was conducted, and the findings showed that it was not cost-effective to bring the building up to code, Flynn said. In addition, to merely replace the station, which was built in 1954, with something equivalent would leave gaps in the functionality of the building. For example, the station lacks women’s facilities and drive-through ability for all of the fire apparatuses. Because of the minimal space in the apparatus room, Flynn said, they have had to store items behind vehicles, limiting that drive-through ability.

Currently, the department is in the design phase of the project. Some improvements being discussed include a fitness area, individual space for the crew members and an IT room, Flynn said. In addition, space is needed to house all of the primary and backup apparatuses, and drive-through ability for all of the apparatuses — so they don’t have to back in — will be programmed into the new building, Flynn said.

“We retrofitted Fire Station No. 3 with some partitions into an area that was already small,” Flynn said. “We will be looking at providing that privacy for each firefighter on duty to have somewhere to go for time to yourself.” 

The design phase is expected to last through the fall. Construction is expected to begin sometime during 2017. Flynn said they won’t have a cost estimate on the new building until the design phase is over and they go to bid. 

In terms of designing a building that is energy efficient, items like motion sensor lights and automatic sinks may not be fitting for every room. Fire stations are a crew member’s home away from home, so people should be able to control the water temperature while trying to shave or brush their teeth, Flynn said.

“This isn’t like you come here and work your eight-hour day. … They live there. It’s a business and a home at the same time, and that’s what’s a little bit difficult for people to understand,” Flynn said. 

Station No. 3 is currently a four-person station, but the new building will be large enough for six crew members. 

“We are building it with the possibility that if the run volume changes … that we’re able to bring another truck online,” Flynn said.

Over the years, crew members have done repair jobs here and there to maintain the living space, including placing wood over shower tile and fixing cabinet doors. 

“It speaks to the history of the building and (a) little bit of the lack of funding that’s been there. That’s not a shot at the township … but going through all those times, we’ve decided to spend the money on keeping trucks and other things going,” Flynn said. 

Firefighter/paramedic Blake Belsky said the station has a different feel than the others in the township, and it is in serious need of a facelift. 

“It’s kind of the last one that feels like a neighborhood fire station,” he said. “It’s kind of a cool place. … Kids will stop by literally every day and want to take a look at a fire truck.”

Belsky said the living quarters are cramped, and crew members do not have privacy.

“It’s all old and outdated, and a lot of it is falling apart. There’s only so many patches you can put on a roof or the kitchen,” Belsky said. 

Because it is an old volunteer station, there are currently no women’s facilities. 

“There’s one bathroom off the apparatus room without a shower. …. It’s not a comfortable situation. But don’t worry. Have no fear, we have three urinals,” Flynn said, demonstrating how the building is not appropriate for both male and female crew members.

Capt. Dan Dawe, who has been with the West Bloomfield Fire Department for almost 29 years, said the station was never built to handle the number of people working in it currently, and when it was remodeled, a station was built within the station. In addition, he said, the department is concerned about the contaminants in the building. 

“As long as you don’t break anything up, it’s OK, but as the station begins to disintegrate, those things are now becoming exposed,” Dawe said. “It needs (to be) redone. It can’t be remodeled.”

Because the department is currently in the design phase, Flynn said it is premature to discuss service changes that will take place during the construction process. 

“We’re sensitive to assuring that residents see no disruption of service or increased response times; however, there will be some degree of that with a project like this,” Flynn said.

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