Renovation of the Scio Township fire station underway

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If you’ve been by the Scio Township Fire station lately you probably noticed that some significant changes are being made there.

It’s the much anticipated renovation project to transform the station on Zeeb Road into a more modern one.

The Sun Times News reached out to Scio Township Fire Chief Andrew Houde to get an update.

“The station remodel is going as well as it can be with COVID,” Houde said. “There are a few building components that are delayed, which is slowing the project down a little, but work is getting done.”

He said currently the contractor has removed the front of the apparatus bay, removed the approach in front of the building, and is preparing the pad for the vehicle storage building.

“They have made accommodations to keep the building and our vehicles secure, we are operating out of the rear of the building rather than the front,” Houde said.

As construction progresses, Houde said the “biggest thing the community will see is the construction of the vehicle storage building behind the station.”

“This will allow us the room to convert some of the apparatus bay space to a firefighting turnout gear storage and decontamination area,” he said. “This will keep the majority of the fireground contaminants away from the living space---a major improvement in firefighter wellness.”

According to Houde, research is showing that the contaminants firefighters are exposed to on a fire scene stay on the firefighter and his or her gear unless washed out with an "extractor", which is a specially designed commercial washing machine dedicated to this purpose.

“Having a dedicated firefighter turnout gear storage, decontamination, and shower area will allow firefighters to limit contamination of the majority building and remove the contaminants from themselves and their gear immediately upon returning to the station from a call,” Houde said.

As the front of the building is completed, Houde said they will again be operating out of the front, and the station will have a whole new look.

“Work on the "shell" of the building will continue throughout the winter and into the spring, the new roof will fix all of the leaks and allow us to then focus on interior modifications,” Houde said. “A plan is in the works to rebuild the interior of the building, I would expect a plan will be presented to the Township Board in the near future. “

In the phase two renovations, the interior reconfiguring, Houde said they will be increasing sleeping areas from three to four and providing adequate facilities for female firefighters. While Scio does have a woman's locker room, Houde said it is inadequate.

“We will be constructing the bathroom/locker room in a unisex style, where each bathroom is an individual unit with a sink, shower, and toilet facilities, so are able to meet the changing demographics of the fire service,” he said.

Houde said he touched on the phase two renovations because that is where the real needs of the department will be met.

“Since the building was built in the mid 80's, there have been few improvements,” he said. “In the last 35 years, we have outgrown the original design concept. We now staff three full time firefighters for a 24-hour shift and one part-time firefighter during the day, partially due to the lack of sleeping space.”

Adding a fourth dorm to the station will allow them, in the future, Houde said to add that fourth person for all 24 hours, greatly improving Scio’s capabilities at night.

“Four on duty is the key to meeting state regulation and allowing us to immediately begin firefighting operations on a fire scene, rather than waiting for additional help to arrive,” Houde said. “The phase two renovation will improve office and administrative space, allowing us to plan for the future, such as fire prevention and building inspections.”

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