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BFD plans new Nymore fire station, city council may decide on land buy at Dec. 16 meeting

BEMIDJI— The Bemidji Fire Department plans to build a new satellite fire station in the southeast end of the city, Chief Dave Hoefer said Thursday.

The potential new station at 318 Lake Ave. SE will replace the building the BFD leases in the same neighborhood. The current station is used by on-call firefighters as opposed to being a base where firefighters stay throughout their shift, although it does house an engine, a water-tender and a support pickup truck.

“The current station is a good storage garage but it’s tight for us spacewise,” Hoefer said.

Among other issues, the current station lacks any restroom facilities, he said.

City Manager John Chattin said that since the city leases the current station, if the owner decides to stop renting it out or sells it, the city and nearby townships would lose the facility. If the fire department owned the building, “it would give the city and the townships some long-term security” he said.

The next step in getting a new station is buying the land. The price of the 2.1 acre lot on Lake Avenue is about $28,500. That money is already in the budget and available to use, Hoefer said.

“We’re getting close to actually purchasing it,” he said.

However, there are at least two hurdles to clear before the land sale goes through. First, the BFD needs the recommendation of the Long-Range Planning Committee, a joint committee between the city and members of the Rural Fire Association, which is made up of officials from rural townships and cities who receive fire service from the BFD. The planning committee was scheduled to meet Thursday morning to weigh in on the sale, but the meeting was postponed until the following week because of the heavy snowstorm that hit the area.

The land purchase also requires the approval of the Bemidji City Council. Hoefer said the council may decide on the purchase at its next regular meeting Dec.16.

Construction of the station is planned for 2016. Hoefer said the new facility would be built for use by on-call firefighters, similar to the current south-end station, but the possibility of adding dormitories in the future would be considered during construction.

A 2012 budget estimate had a $1.2 million cost listed for the building’s construction.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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