ELBURN – Fire trucks began to arrive Monday morning at the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District’s new station on Route 38 in Elburn.
After 14 months of construction and years of planning, the new station, which sits east of Route 47, on the north side of Route 38, was bustling with activity Monday, its first day of operation. Assistant Fire Chief Tate Haley has been overseeing the project, and he provided a tour highlighting some of the features of the new station.
The station is spacious, much larger than the previous station at 210 E. North St. in Elburn. In several spots, Haley showed off areas that were not yet designated. He said he wants the station to be prepared for growth. The district covers areas beyond Elburn, including the Mill Creek subdivision, and Elburn’s population is expected to rise as building begins in the Elburn station area.
“When I come back in 10, 15 or 20 years, I want to know that the vision I have now will be fully occupied,” Haley said, adding, “People ask why it is so big. … It is built for the future.”
Funds for the station had been covered by the department, and no additional public funding was required. Original cost estimates were between $8 million and $10 million, and Haley said the station came in at close to $10 million.
As Haley spoke, Pam Hall, the station’s administrative assistant, smiled as she looked around the department’s new home, which is more than twice as large as the building on North Street.
“We had outgrown that building,” Hall said.
Those in the community will notice emergency vehicles going in and out of the large building, which is east of Walgreens. Haley said an open house is in the works for Dec. 13, so residents will have a chance to see the new features. Visitors also will notice more displays and areas open for public education. Haley said such items previously would be kept in boxes most of the year and taken out for special occasions, such as the annual Christmas Stroll.
Some features won’t easily visible be to the public. For instance, instead of the traditional fire pole, firefighters can go directly from the second-floor residence area to the vehicle area via a shiny red slide. The previous station didn’t have such a feature, since it is a one-story station. Haley said he asked those at the station for a preference and went with the slide.
“Either I created my own tradition, or I broke tradition,” Haley said with a smile.
The station has three levels. On the middle level, which is the main level, there are offices, boardrooms, training areas and a kitchen. In one wing, there is a location for the fire marshal.
Downstairs, there is a fitness room, one of the key upgrades. Previously, firefighters wanting to use a fitness room would use one in a different building, one nearby that once housed ambulances, Haley said.
“Pretty much, it was a glorified shed,” Haley said.
The downstairs area also includes an emergency operations center and a large boardroom area that also can be used for training. In a downstairs area he said will be a museum of sorts, a historic wheel sat among other educational items. He said that wheel and another on display had been at the old station for years, but some people never realized it.
Upstairs, there are 15 bunks, a large multipurpose room and a patio. Firefighters can travel down the slide into the vehicle area. On the side of that area is a training tower, which also can be used to dry hoses. Haley said many areas of training can be implemented in that area, including rescues and the ability to work in confined spaces.
Haley said it had been a challenge, but he expected all of the equipment to be at the new station by Monday night. He said it can be difficult for a fire department to accomplish tasks related to a move.
“Some businesses can shut down on Friday … and then reopen [in a new location] on Monday,” he said. “We can’t shut down.”