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posted: 10/17/2013 6:48 PM

New E. Dundee station scheduled to open in May 2014

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When East Dundee's new fire station opens in May, it will not have a pole firefighters slide down to get from their bunks to their trucks. The existing 63-year-old station doesn't have one now.

It will not have a siren on the top of the building to call volunteers to a fire. The existing one, on Third Street, has one, but hasn't been used in years.

And it will not be built in a tight residential neighborhood as the current station is.

When the new fire station along Route 25 opens it will have plenty of room for ambulances and fire trucks to drive in and out of the building without fear of taking off a side mirror because the doors are too small, Fire Chief Steven Schmitendorf said.

"The new station will be a state-of-the-art building," Schmitendorf said. "It will satisfy the needs of the residents and allow us to respond to fires without dealing with obstacles we have now."

Simply, those obstacles are working from a station that was built when the department was all volunteer, when no one slept in it overnight and when traffic did not dictate the number of calls or response time.

Before East Dundee voters gave the fire protection district permission in November 2012 to sell bonds and build the station, fire trustees and employees were constantly making Band-Aid repairs to problems.

"One of the biggest projects we did was to renovate the second floor of the Third Street station," Schmitendorf said. "It wasn't built with sleeping quarters. That's why it didn't have a pole other fire houses have. It was built for a volunteer department that wanted to supplement its income by renting out an upstairs hall for weddings and other events."

Renovations were needed for office space and sleeping quarters for the male and female firefighters. They eliminated the banquet hall.

Then the building needed to be expanded to house more and bigger fire trucks.

"Through the years, firefighting vehicles got bigger. We have enough bays and they're tall enough, but they are narrow. There are times when we have to pull in the rearview mirrors to fit them in the door," the chief said.

Only a street separates the existing station from the building in front of it. Ambulances driving in and out of the building are not a problem making sharp turns. Fire calls that warrant the use of the larger tanker trucks, though, required the trucks to make sharp turns and navigate around delivery trucks stopped at nearby businesses.

"This has become to be a hazard," Schmitendorf said.

At 17,500-square feet, the new station will provide enough room for the firefighters, two ambulances and engine trucks. It will have eight sleeping rooms on the first level.

The East Dundee Fire Protection District is staffed 24 hours with enough firefighters to operate its ambulances and fire trucks.

East Dundee fire trustees selected the site for the new station because of its central location. Building it along Route 25, north of Route 72 has allowed the fire district and the village to work together. The village donated the land in return for use of the Third Street building when the fire department moves out.

Then, village officials will renovate it and use it for the police department.

Residents who feel nostalgic for the old station are invited to walk though it from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday during an open house. Residents will be able to see sketches for the $5 million building project and see how much the fire district has grown.

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