Dexter Considers Adding Temporary Structure to Fire Station

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By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

DAFD Chief Robert Smith submitted a letter to Dexter City Council stating the need for a temporary structure for Dexter’s fire station.

Chief Smith begins his memo with, “As the Council is aware, the living and work conditions at the Dexter City Fire Station are substantially less that [sic] minimum generally recognized standards and not in compliance with current building and fire codes.”

Smith points to a 2013 MIOSHA inspection that identified travel distance and egress requirements from the second-story bunkroom to safety as being unsafe. While the travel distance was remedied, the egress issue was not.

Chief Smith proposes a 24x60 foot modular unit that he believes would resolve the MIOSHA violation and address several ongoing concerns with the outdated fire station.

  1. The proposed temporary structure would include two bunk rooms at ground level with primary and secondary egress compliant with current building codes.
  2. The unit would include a day room separate from business areas, storage, and the bays increasing safety.
  3. The structure would include a full kitchen and dining area separate from the other work areas of the station.
  4. The temporary unit would include a designated laundry room for non-hazardous laundering.
  5. A fitness room would be included allowing responders to exercise in their station instead of traveling to other stations to do so.
  6. The current building has one restroom and shower facility. The auxiliary unit would provide one additional restroom and shower.
A schematic of the proposed unit.

If the temporary structure is installed, it will ease some of the crowding in the current building. The second-floor bunk room would be converted to much-needed storage. The workstations would be expanded into the kitchen area. Laundering equipment would be removed from the bays.

Chief Smith reports that the initial installation cost of the modular unit would be $54,045, with a monthly rental fee of $7,450.

Well aware of Dexter’s longevity with temporary arrangements, Chief Smith states, “I stress that this needs to be considered a temporary resolution to current problem and will not withstand the test of time.”

Chief Smith concluded his letter saying, “I strongly urge City Council to consider this temporary option to improve the working and living conditions of our Fire Fighters. This request is strictly in the interest of Fire Fighter Health and Safety. I am very concerned that a future MIOSHA visit would not so [sic] accommodating now that DAFD has other options (additional stations) that did not exist when the 2013 inspection was completed.”

The letter was submitted for the Council’s consideration, and no action was taken.

“I appreciate that we're being reminded of the City's real or perceived need for a fire station,” said Councilmember Griffin during the discussion. “I believe them to be real. There's a lot of information here, and it wasn't immediately clear to me what potential action should be other than I would personally like to see something about the fire station to be on all future agendas until these particular issues are addressed.”

Councilmember Michels suggested contacting MIOSHA’s Consultation Education Training Division and request an inspection to update specific concerns that need to be addressed. Chief Smith is hesitant for such a move out of concern that MIOSHA could direct the Dexter firefighters to bunk in the other two fire stations in the district—Webster and Dexter Township. If that happened, the Dexter station would only be staffed during daytime hours.

Ms. Griffin seemed to sum up what was on several council members' minds. “I want to do whatever it takes to remedy the current situation,” she said. “I don't know what that is, but I want to start the conversation, which is what we're doing.”

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