The side of the current fire station.(Megan Glenn/News and Times)

After years of hard work, the Mayer Fire Department is much closer to a new and improved fire station. On August 10, an official budget was approved for the new station by the Mayer City Council of $2.8 million for the new station. Now, planning has started for the site, and the first meeting to get that going was held on Aug. 24.

“We’ve been planning this for about five years,” said Mayor Mike Dodge in an interview. “But it’s really kicked off and started getting traction since this January.”

There are a few reasons that a new station is required, the most important of them being safety. The bigger Mayer gets, the more need for emergency services. Unfortunately, the current station is somewhat landlocked, given its location near a neighborhood and downtown Mayer. Doubly unfortunate is the fact that building vertically also isn’t an option, according to Dodge.

New equipment and set ups were also required in the station as part of improved safety protocols for fire fighters. One example of this is refilling oxygen tanks. The current standard to have a dedicated room for the filling station in case something were to go wrong with a pressurized oxygen canister. Currently, the filling station is not isolated. This is just one of the safety concerns in the old station.

“We don’t have showers, decontamination rooms, so these fire fighters have to spray off at the scene, wear their contaminated gear home, and it’s really not safe,” said Dodge. “They come in contact with a lot of carcinogens, so it’s important for them to clean off.”

All in all, it was determined that building anew would be cheaper and simpler than renovating the current space. The next challenge was the budget. Originally, the estimated cost of the new station would be $4.2 million. As this was four times the normal city budget, according to Dodge, the council began talking over plans. On August 10, the official budget for the new station was decided at $2.8 million in a three to one vote.

With the budget set, it’s time to start planning exactly what the new station will look like. The station is actually in phase three of its development, which is beginning to put together construction documents. This phase is more detailed than the initial schematics, and goes into things such as mechanical and electric plans, interior finishes, and more.

Since this phase requires an eye for detail and engineering to an extent, there’s a need for a Civil Engineer to develop the plans for drainage, parking, sidewalks, and essentially everything city and county related that will be necessary to the new station. The plan on the city of Mayer’s part was to hire an engineer through Bolton and Menk, not the architectural firm, Brunton Architect, to help save on the budget.

Bolton and Menk estimate that this work will cost $10,000, which will be deducted from Brunton’s budgeted project cost.

“When we do these projects, regardless of who’s doing it, there is usually some oversight as well,” said Margaret McCallum, city administrator, at the August 24 city council meeting. “It’s been recommended that we allocate $5,000 for this.”

This totals to $15,000 for Bolton and Menk’s Civil Engineer to begin finalizing the plans. The motion was unanimously approved by the city council.

Once the plans are 90 percent complete, according to the meeting’s agenda, they will come before the Building Committee to be finalized. They will also be submitted to the State of Minnesota to be certain they were within ADA compliance. Once these plans are approved, bidding will begin.

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