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FFD begins planning for new fire station
For 114 years, the Frankenmuth Fire Department has been on guard for the township, village and now the city.
FFD Chief Phil Kerns believes now is the time to plan for a new fire station within the next 5-10 years.
Kerns recently gave the Frankenmuth City Council his annual report on the status of his staff, equipment and hall. While the department numbers over 30 firefighters and has some of best equipment in the county, the fire hall has a leaky roof, is becoming too small for the equipment and its location right off West Genesee Street has become a bit hazardous.
The fire department has asked the Frankenmuth City-Township Commission for direction and ultimately both governmental units for approval in planning for either a new public safety building or a substantial renovation to the nearly 70-year-old building, which has seen recent additions.
“We are looking at 5-10 years out. The building has issues now. Do we want to put good money into this building when the longevity is not there?” Kerns said.
Options are to demolish the current public safety building, which also houses the Frankenmuth Police Department or build on property that was given to the city by the Bronner family in the mid-2000s. That property includes the former Tooling Systems Division’s Plant 3, located immediately north of the fire station and city hall, or the bare property locate immediately north of Plant 3, off North Franklin Street.
Plant 3 is currently used for storage of the city. It could be converted into a fire hall or be used as temporary hall while a new hall or renovations are done.
Kerns points out that the old Plant 3 is 50-years old, “is a tin can, has flat floors and no drainage.”
The current building and site are becoming obsolete due to the fire truck sizes, roof leaks, deterioration of the West Genesee Street concrete approach, underground pipe failures, hazards of backing in apparatus off West Genesee and North Franklin streets, barrier-free access issues, inadequate male and female facilities, lack of storage space, energy efficiency concerns and environmental issues with contaminated gear and personnel.
"Taking the fire trucks off Genesee Street has become more and more dangerous. Let’s just say the public is not as courteous as they used to be when we have to get the units in and out of the station,” Kerns said.
Ideally, the goal is stay within close proximity of their current location. Nineteen of the current 34 firefighters live within one mile of station, lessening response times. They would also like to partner with the FPD to keep all the public safety departments together.
Many years ago, the FFD discussed building a new station off Junction Road, across from Bernthal Meat Packing. Kerns believes the township still owns that piece of land. However, based on 2018 statistics, 80 of the department’s 143 calls for service took place within the city limits.
The FFD has a preliminary plan for layout and design and is working on financing the project, which may include bond sales. The FFD is looking to purchase a new fire engine in 2022, retiring Engine 2 at that time.
Kerns also thanks retired Chief Gene Rittmueller for setting ups an apparatus purchase plan that is still used today when considering buying new fire trucks and other equipment.