City leaders unveiled plans to tear down and rebuild Fire Station 44 on the eastside of Carmel with constructing possibly starting this summer.
The station, located at 5032 E. Main Street, across from the Carmel Clay Schools Administration Building, was built in 1980 and more space is now needed.
The new station will have more space for more equipment and more comfortable living quarters for the firefighters who work 24-hour shifts. There will be separate areas for male and female firefighters in a space-efficient dormitory setting. There will be a separate fitness area and additional showers and bathrooms so firefighters don’t have to wait in long lines when they work a shift.
“This is just not big enough anymore,” said Doug Callahan, former fire chief and current Clay Township trustee.
The new station, which should cost $3.5 million, will be paid for through existing Clay Township funds and tax revenues without creating any additional taxes. Callahan said construction has to be done by July 2016.
“Out of all of our fire stations, this one is probably in the worst shape,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard. “It’s time to rebuild it and we’re excited that it’s going to happen and it’ll happen without a tax increase.”
While some might question the need for more comfortable living quarters, numerous studies have proven that rested and relaxed firefighters perform better in the line of duty. In addition, the TVs, the cable bill, the food, etc. is all paid for by the firefighters themselves.
Carmel Fire Chief Matthew F. Hoffman said it was important to keep the new fire station in the exact same spot because they feel that it’s a perfect location. Neighbors are already used to sirens and trucks and so there’s little concern. A public meeting was held on Feb. 23 to ease any worries that neighbors might have about construction noise and mess.
“During all of this, we want to be good neighbors,” he said. “We might be dirty and we might be loud. But I want to be available to the neighborhood. This is your fire station.”
After demolition, there will be a temporary fire station set up somewhere nearby, although the exact location hasn’t been determined. The school administration building has offered to help house the fire engine. A collection of trailers will likely to be used to set up the temporary station and Hoffman said there will be no reduction in staff or services during construction.
There will also be several new additions to increase response time such as wider doors that open faster and poles that firefighters can slide down.
Any neighbors who have any concerns are encouraged to call the fire department’s main numbet at 317-571-2600.