In a move that was born out of the continued growth of the city, the Carmel Fire Dept. has big changes on the horizon with the announcement of a project that will build a new administrative headquarters at the current home of the Carmel Fire Buffs Museum in the Arts & Design District.
In mid-October the City of Carmel and Clay Township unveiled its plans to deconstruct the museum piece by piece and rebuild it in the new building.
The museum is the original location of the first CFD headquarters. Today, it displays CFD artifacts from the department’s history, including vehicles, equipment and important documents, to the public.
“It was built by the volunteer firefighters in 1950. That served as the fire headquarters from 1950 to 1987, and then the administration and department moved out of that building,” said Tim Griffin, CFD firefighter and public information officer. “We’re going to be reusing the original brick from that very first headquarters to reconstruct it within the new building. The radio tower that now exists on top of the museum also will be a feature of the new building because it’s iconic for the museum.”
Griffin said some of the beams in the existing building will be incorporated into the new museum as well.
“For us, it’s coming full circle,” he said. “It’s almost like a rebirth of our very first headquarters.”
Before the first headquarters was built in 1950, the fire department operated with no dedicated home base. Most equipment was housed in firefighters’ personal garages, at local gas stations and various other spots throughout town.
“That’s what the fire department does, adapt and overcome,” Griffin said. “They started in a garage, they used their own money and put in their blood and sweat to build the first headquarters. For us to preserve parts of that the best we can, it’s important and really neat to us as firefighters but for the city overall.”
Currently CFD administration works out of Station 41 at 2 Civic Sq., which also is in need of expansion and upgrades.
“In 1987, they thought they’d never fill that station, and as we know, the city has grown exponentially,” said Griffin, who works out of Station 41. “With that, so has the administration and the department itself. What used to have one truck and few guys, we now have 13 individuals that live here 365 days a year on the firefighter side. So by relieving the administration, that gives the firefighters more room to expand their needs.”
CFD Chief David Haboush said the biggest need at Station 41 is more livable space for the firefighters.
“This project is a win-win,” he said. “The administration building will go up first, and we’ll move out of Station 41. When that happens, Station 41 will begin its remodeling process.”
Original plans for the headquarters discussed in June outlined a plan to build more space around the existing museum. However, some materials and general wear and tear of the nearly 70-year-old building made that not a feasible option.
At three stories tall, Haboush said new features of the proposed headquarters will, in addition to the fire buffs museum, be office and work space for administrators, including an outdoor mezzanine area, but also a community room and space for Survive Alive, CFD’s public education program.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity that we have before us, and the fact that we are able to build a new building to meet the current and future needs of the department and community is very rare,” Haboush said.
Within the next month, Griffin said the deconstruction project will be bid, and once the museum’s lot is completely clear, he expects the construction to take approximately 18 months.