Eagle fire station embarks on $2.8 million remodel
Facelift will make station more welcoming to the community and safer for firefighters
In November, FCI Constructors Inc. broke ground on a $2.8 million, six-month project to remodel the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District Fire Station 9. The station, which will be fully functional during construction, is not only getting a bit of a facelift to be more welcoming to the community but will also be updated to comply with best-known health practices for fire stations.
FCI superintendent, Ed Nation, said a major health-oriented separation that will occur will be with truck parking. Fire truck exhaust can be dangerous when inhaled regularly, he said, so keeping the trucks separate from other areas of the station can make a big difference in reducing firefighters’ cancer risk.
Emily Marston, a public information officer and life safety educator with the district, said this major aspect of the renovation is long overdue. She explained that the station, which was built in 1977, originally served as a garage for volunteer engines.
“The volunteers would just drop whatever they were doing and come,” Marston said.
However, as the community of Eagle grew, Station 9 adapted to meet the needs of those it served. Marston said that in 1993, career firefighters started operating out of Fire Station 9, and thus, the building morphed to allocate the spaces and resources needed to support career firefighters. So, along with the career firefighters, the station’s current east bay and upstairs living quarters were added.
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Marston said the firefighters at Fire Station 9 have always been adaptable, making the space available work for them, all in order to continue serving the greater Eagle community. While the firefighters need to adapt in the meantime as the station is undergoing renovations and fire protection operations are still underway, Marston said they are making the best of the changes.
“They came in and they wrote ‘demo’ on all the walls they were taking out and basically anything that had ‘demo’ on it was fair game for us,” Marston said. “So, we had the opportunity to force doors and practice busting through walls and doing cool stuff like that. That was definitely one of the highlights.”
Also, once renovations are complete, all the professionals operating out of Station 9 will be able to do everything they already do, but in a space better planned out and with their health in mind.
The Firefighter Cancer Support Network reports that firefighters are 9% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and 14% more likely to die from cancer than the general population. With this in consideration, Fire Station 9 approached its current remodel with the goal of reducing cancer risk for its firefighters.
“(Over the last many years), we have learned a great deal of how we need to improve health and safety while fighting fires,” a social media summary about the remodel read. “We also learned about the effects of station living, cleaning gear, and safe storage of gear at the firehouse.”
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, certain best practices can be employed in fire station design to reduce carcinogen exposure. Experts recommend fire stations be sectioned into three hazard zones — hot, warm and cold — which Nation said Fire Station 9 will comply with once the remodel is complete. There will be structural separations between contaminated materials, working and living spaces in order to reduce exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, he said.
Additionally, Marston said the health of the public that enters the fire station will be better regulated with the building’s remodel.
“The public walks right in that door, into the bay, and you’re like forcing that stuff on you guys that we shouldn’t be forcing,” Marston said.
So, walking up into Fire Station 9 will look a lot different than it used to once renovations are complete. However, this doesn’t mean residents won’t be able to see a fire truck when they visit the Eagle fire station.
In fact, the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District 1937 parade fire engine will be on display alongside other vintage fire equipment in a new entrance area, which will be far more welcoming than the current design, Kathy Lawn said. Lawn is the administrative assistant and human resources professional for the district.
“You walk in and you see a fire truck and you’re like, ‘which office do I go into?’ ‘Where is the training,'” Lawn said. “Yeah, and this kind of eliminates that confusion and gives you more of a presentable like, ‘Hey, this is a fire station,’ without being like, ‘Hey, there’s a fire truck right there.’”
Another component of the fire station renovation is the inclusion of EPA-mandated sand catches for runoff, which prevent toxic chemicals from coming off the truck and going back into the city’s drainage system, Nation said.
With all the changes being made to Fire Station 9, Marston explained that the station’s transformation will be far more dramatic than its 2020 touch-up, which involved a new paint job and the installation of a new sign. She said the updates that are currently underway have been long overdue, so while the $2.8 million of renovations may seem small to some, “to us it’s huge.”
“Please excuse our mess while we grow,” the Station 9 remodel summary read, “Firefighters are still responding out of the station, while administrative personnel have temporarily relocated.”