Posted: Monday, March 9, 2015 12:00 am
By Lisa Trigg Tribune-Star
Posted on March 9, 2015 by Lisa Trigg
A new fire station to serve the property owners of Otter Creek Township has come on line as fire trucks, equipment and offices made the move on Saturday. Station One on Clinton Road was completed in about a year, with a price tag of $1.4 million to be paid off through a 20-year bond issue. The cost to taxpayers is 4.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, township trustee Robert Salmon told the Tribune- Star. “In comparison to other departments, this is among the lower end of cost for fire service,” Salmon said. “For the service people get, we feel it is needed, and people ask for it. They call 911, and they expect someone to be there. I feel they get their money’s worth when you look at the service they get.” The Otter Creek department is staffed by volunteers. Fire Chief Brad Stott said that 53 people serve the entire township, which also has stations at Sandcut and Burnett. “Otter Creek has been fortunate because it’s been a trend across the country that it’s hard to find people with the interest and time to volunteer as firefighters,” Stott said. “Fortunately, we are not one of those localities having a hard time finding volunteers.” Salmon agreed. “One reason is because we are able to purchase new equipment, and the township is able to provide training to everybody.” The new station has a large training room available, as well as new technology. Stott said the volunteers are also diverse in their skills and interests. Some may be interested in the technology side or equipment maintenance or business and training. “We are large enough to have a diversity of experience and talents in the group to find something that suits their skills and interests,” Stott said. The new station has seven bays, with room for two fire engines, a tanker and heavy rescue truck. The station is on one ground-floor level, and it includes two bunk rooms, a fitness room, kitchen, laundry area, restrooms, office space, a radio room and small conference room, and the training room. In 2014, the department was called out on 617 runs in the township. For the last three years, the volunteers have averaged 600 to 700 runs per year, Salmon said. The highest volume of runs come along the Clinton Road and Park Avenue corridors, he said. The former Station One on Park Avenue had been in service since the 1960s, and the department had outgrown the usefulness of the building. It was originally set up as a simple garage with a restroom and kitchen to host fundraisers. Also, that station location is in the flood plain of Otter Creek, and it had been flooded on two prior occasions, Salmon said. The new location is about a mile away and is not in the flood plain. Stott said that while no one is at Station One on a full-time basis, the station often has people there throughout the day. He said he hopes one day to be able to hire full-time staff.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.