Renovations planned for Carol Stream fire station
The Carol Stream Fire Protection District plans to remodel its station at Schmale and St. Charles roads, officials say.
The building originally was designed as a gas station, not for the firefighter-paramedics who now staff it round-the-clock.
The outdated station falls below safety standards set by professional organizations, lacks storage space and dates to an era when physical fitness for firefighters was an afterthought, Chief Rick Kolomay said.
A treadmill, boxing bag and other workout equipment is tucked into a corner of the apparatus floor where a fire truck and ambulance are parked. An addition for living quarters was built on the south side in 1993, but the rest of the station remains largely untouched.
In November, Kolomay expects to deliver a report to the board of trustees that oversees the district on what the renovations will look like and how much the project will cost. One option is to phase in the work over several years.
The board has decided against replacing the station -- estimated to cost roughly $6 million, Kolomay said. And the panel also doesn't want to pursue a property tax increase to finance improvements.
Instead, trustees have increased ambulance fees, now aligned with what neighboring departments charge, Kolomay said.
The hikes, covered by insurance companies, are expected to generate about $150,000 annually, money that will go toward renovations, he said.
The fire chief said he would be pleased if the makeover began next spring. He's working with Williams Architects, an Itasca firm, to design upgrades and reconfigure the current space to add more room for living quarters, all within the existing footprint. The kitchen, refurbished in 2009, will remain the same.
"We're trying to plan for the future as much as we can," he said. "The needs and the demands of the fire service evolve through time."
That could mean adding a foyer for patients who, down the road, seek care outside of the hospital, say, for blood pressure checks. Storage of parts for fire trucks, equipment and utilities would likely move outside to a stand-alone facility in the station's rear.
In 1975, the fire station opened on a site consultants said was ideal for the types and volume of emergency calls the district was receiving.
But the size is far smaller than the typical secondary station (not headquarters), which tend to cover 11,000 to 15,000 square feet, Kolomay said. The footprint for Station No. 29? Roughly 6,000 square feet.
The station also doesn't meet facility standards set by the National Fire Protection Association on decontaminating gear after fires and medical emergencies. And the station doesn't have the smaller, private bathrooms the association recommends for employees.
Five to six firefighter-paramedics stay there during a 24-hour shift.
"These guys are making the best out of a very difficult situation," Kolomay said.