Is a second fire station in Scio Township's future?


A rendering of the proposed station number 2. courtesy of Scio Township

In looking at a potential second fire station, Scio Township is thinking about providing an efficient fire station to serve the community with minimal impact to the environment.

That’s how township consultation planners put it in their presentation on Aug. 29 at the Scio Township Board of Trustees meeting.

After being directed just a month ago by the Scio Township Board to create a schematic design and floor plan for the proposed Fire station 2, Partners in Architecture partners completed the job and gave the presentation along with cost estimates.

The mission statement in the presentation read, providing an efficient fire station to serve the community with minimal impact to the environment, and then it gave a list of Project Goals and Objectives:

1. Design and build a new Fire Station that supports and promotes the health, safety and well-being of the firefighters and staff.

2. Apply Sustainable Techniques to achieve a Zero Net Carbon Emissions (ZNCB) project.

3. Construct a safe and secure building to protect the Community and provide aid.

4. Utilize advanced and enhanced technologies to optimize operations.

5. Administer public funds with focus on value driven solutions.

Some of the sustainability options in consideration that were presented included: using sustainable materials, systems and techniques to achieve a Zero Net Carbon Building, diverting reusable vegetation, rocks, and soil from disposal during construction and Stormwater Management. These are just a few among a list of 10 potential options.

The presentation’s cost estimates had the probable project cost estimate at $10,109,000. The projected size of the station would be just over at 17,000 square feet. Here are the estimated costs presented:

courtesy of Scio Township

The Sun Times News followed up with Scio Township Fire Chief Andrew Houde about the presentation, what the community should know and next steps.

“Overall, I think the presentation of the preliminary station plan was well received by the township board,” Chief Houde said. “The Township Board seemed very impressed with the thought and hard work that Partners in Architecture put into their work product. There are a lot of interests weighing in on how the station should be built and its function, but we have a great start.”

Houde said there are several points of note about the project and the plan.

“First, this is a preliminary plan---it is close to, but not the final product,” he said. “As we take next steps, we will refine and improve the schematic design. One point that sticks out to me is that we can shrink some space out of the final plan saving money without impacting how the station would operate.”

He further said, “The station would have several features that are of note. Scio has little public meeting space outside the township meeting room, so we have scaled up our training room to meet that need. It would be available for the public to reserve, such as for homeowners’ association meetings or similar events. The room is sized to allow it to be used as a voting precinct, which could help ease congestion at other polling places. Lastly, we have designed it to serve the public in times of need, such as last winter’s ice storm or this summer’s power outages, by opening the space for public to come in, warm up or cool down, charge devices, and have access to shower facilities. In greater times of need, it could also be used as a place to distribute aid such as clean drinking water or food, if necessary. While it is a fire station, it would fit several other needs in the community. Lastly, the building as planned is a net-zero facility. That mandate by the Township Board would make this the first net-zero municipal building in Scio Township and one of the net-zero fire stations first in the state.”

Looking to the special vote in November, Houde said it is important to note that “we are asking residents for a tax increase to increase to fund the station construction and staffing.”

“The overall request is based on cost estimates provided by the Fire Services Guidance Committee and are designed to slowly increase over time as we improve service,” he said. “The operating question is designed to provide staffing improvements over the next 6-10 years and the assessment would gradually escalate as we hire firefighters. If approved, this assessment would replace the existing assessment and be the sole source of funding for the fire department---that is the existing assessment would no longer be collected if the November 7 operating question is approved by voters.”

There are various reasons why the township fire department hope to see a second fire station in the near future, but one does stand out.

“Obviously, the real need is dictated by response to emergencies,” Houde said. “This station would be positioned to be the “first due” response station to about 40 percent of Scio’s population, including the areas where we have some of our longest response times. If voters approve, this station will drastically improve our response to emergencies within the community.”

A look at the area where the proposed station 2 would go. map courtesy of Scio Township

Asking Houde about the next steps, he said it’s about informing the community.

“Our next steps are to continue to provide education to voters,” he said. “We are asking voters this November 7 two questions, an operating question which would fund personnel and ongoing station operation, and a capital question, which would fund construction and equipping of the station. Scio already owns the property where the station would go. If voters wish to see this station built and staffed, both questions must be approved. If voters do approve both questions this fall, we would engage an architect to finalize our schematic design, provide construction documents, and begin the bidding process. Along with that, we would need to order apparatus and start hiring firefighters. We expect that we could have the building open and operational, with voter approval this fall, no later than spring 2026, and possibly earlier.”

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