By Dave Taylor
Forty-four years after the community of Dukes came together to build a 1,500 square foot fire station and fill it with used equipment, the community could again be getting a new station, this time paid for mostly with a government grant.
The Dukes Volunteer Fire Department is waiting to hear whether or not it will be awarded a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant to be put toward the approximately $940,000 project, but Kyle Veach, Hancock County’s emergency manager and a member of the department, said the application process should be just a formality.
“Any of the loans of the past that have gone in with design completion and architectural design completed and groundwork done and seismic studies done, geotech done go in as what they call a Level 1 candidate,” he said. “And all Level 1s get approved.”
It’s not a rule that they get approved, he said, but it’s how it’s always gone.
The new fire station will be built at 4205 Happy Hollow Road, just down the road from the current one located at 5130 Happy Hollow Road.
Both will be on land donated to the county by the Phelps family, who donated two acres for this newest station.
“This location puts us on a straight stretch to where we don’t have to worry about issues of pulling out in front of traffic or having to back in in front of traffic,” Veach said.
The new building will be 5,900 square feet, much larger than the old building’s 1,500 square feet, which will come just in time.
“Once you build a fire station it stays the same size but trucks and equipment continue to get bigger and bigger,” he said. “The fire trucks now are a lot bigger than the trucks were in the 70s.
“So now when we back a truck in, the ladders on the side touch the back wall and there’s not even enough room to walk in front of the truck between the truck and the garage door,” he said.
The new station will also be appealing to look at, with a simple, modern metal exterior.
“It’s going to be a utilitarian design, kind of a very purpose built station,” he said. “It’s going to be a pre-fab iron building with metal façade.”
There will be a training area, an office, a kitchen area, and a public storm shelter, which is now required by law in all new emergency services structures.
“The bathrooms of the building have 12-foot solid concrete walls, floors and roof, as well as their own separate ventilation system and escape hatches out the back,” he said. “Things like that is the reason the cost of the building is so much is because of the requirements from the federal government for this loan.”
Unlike the old station, this one will be future proof, built to potentially grow over time.
“The new station will be three bays just like the old station,” he said, “but this new station will allow us room to add on eventually, to either add on another bay or to actually make the three bays that we have drive-thru bays by putting bay doors on the back.”
As for the old station, it’ll be handed back over to the original land donors.
“The old station returns to the Phelps family to do with as they please,” he said.
A decision on the awarding of the grant isn’t expected until the end of the year.