2012 may be the year East Dundee fire officials answer their age-old question of what to do with their cramped, out-of-date Third Street station.
In the next 12 months, the three fire trustees and Chief Steve Schmitendorf may know where a new station should be built, how much it will cost and how to pay for it.
They already know one is needed.
"We only have one fire station that was built in 1950," Schmitendorf said. "It does not meet (The Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. It's located in a portion of the village that takes us a while to get to the majority of our calls. By the time we make all of our turns, it takes us two minutes to get to the Dairy Queen (at River Street and Route 72)."
Ideally, a new fire station would be built along Route 25, north of Route 72, he said. But so much must be discussed and decided before any decision is made.
In the next few months, East Dundee fire trustees will put together a public information campaign to take to residents. Also, they will meet with East Dundee village trustees to discuss a possible site near a pending residential project along Route 25, said Village Administrator Robert Skurla.
Then, architects must be hired, costs must be determined and agreements must be reached. Those agreements are needed because the fire district is a separate taxing authority from the village, yet the two need each other.
The current firehouse sits on village-owned land next to the century-old East Dundee Police Department building and the village hall, Schmitendorf said. That building is also small and outdated.
For decades, village board members have searched for property to build a new hall. If they decide to use the property where the fire station is, they would not have to move far. In return, fire trustees would receive three acres along Route 25 the village would receive as part of the multifamily residential project, Skurla said.
Putting the firehouse closer to the state highway would place it closer to the middle of the district, said Schmitendorf. Response times would be shortened, access to the major highways would be gained.
"Our district goes as far as the Goebbert's pumpkin farm (along Route 72 in South Barrington). Many of our calls are in South Barrington and Barrington Hills," the chief said.
"Our response time throughout our district is good, and eliminating the turns from our current station would make it even better."
Fire trustees know that from experience when the district had a second station along Rock Road, east of Route 25; however, money constraints forced them to close it. Now, the district is run from the Third Street station that is staffed 24 hours and holds many of the fire trucks and ambulances. It also serves as a bedroom for five firefighters who are assigned overnight shifts.
"When this station was built, it was not designed for sleeping quarters. Our second floor used to be a dance hall," the fire chief said.
"The building has no elevator and the staircase from the first to the second floors is narrow and dark. It doesn't even have the firemen's pole to slide down. I'm concerned one of the firefighters is going to be hurt when responding to a call at night."