Sedalia City Council members, City Administrator Gary Edwards, Mayor Elaine Horn and Community Development Director John Simmons were treated to a tour of the Sedalia Fire Department’s new facility on West 16th Street, with Fire Chief Mike Ditzfeld and Assistant Chief Greg Harrell conducting the progress report on Monday evening.
According to Harrell, planning on the new station began in the late 90s. “One of the greatest things about this is, it’s not only built for right now, the classroom, sleeping quarters and kitchen will allow for expansion in the future. But also, we’re going to have a female firefighter one of these days, folks,” he said.
Physical testing, which has been done at the Missouri State Fairgrounds for the past 25-30 years, will now be done at the new fire station, along with written testing. “Next April, it’s our intentions to do all of the physical agility and written testing, all of our hiring process for the Sedalia Fire Department, right here in this building. We won’t be using City Hall or any other place across town for three days to get testing done, we’ll be able to be self contained right here, so we’re very excited about that,” Harrell told Council members.
There will also be a weight and exercise room in the new building. “There will be tread mills, ellipticals, free-weight benches, and the floor will be designed for professional weight equipment,” Harrell noted.
The new facility will be properly insulated (built with insulated windows, in addition to insulation in the roof, walls and floor) and fire resistant, he stressed, pointing out the sprinkler system above Council members’ heads.
“We’re practicing what we preach. We’re not better than anybody else.” He added that “We put a lot of time and effort into this building, but the Council (and the Mayor) listened to us, gave us good questions, asked us to justify things, and the things we were able to justify, the Council approved it, and that’s why we have a building I think people are going to be very impressed with and proud of,” Harrell told Council members. This is going to be the face of city government when it’s done.”
Ditzfeld noted that a new roof was added to the city’s fire station on Hancock in the last 45 days, and plans are under way to add thermal, insulated windows to that structure. The Hancock fire station has been open since 1975, Ditzfeld said, noting that when it was built, it was originally designed to have four bays, but because of budget cuts, was scaled back to three.
“We’re going to continue to maintain that building; it’s going to be very crucial to housing the equipment and all the firefighters on the east side,” he said, adding that two firefighters will be moved to the new facility, and the city’s new fire truck will be housed on West 16th.
He noted that the new four-bay fire station is the latest in a string of success for the city, singling out the Sedalia Public Library and Washington Street Bridge renovations as prime examples.
The new fire station is located at 2606 W. 16th Street, where the current Station 2 has been since 1971.
“Once we get moved into the new station, the old station will be torn down and final work on concrete will be completed. That will be the last thing to complete for the project,” Chief Ditzfeld told the News-Journal in November.
The fire chief also revealed on Monday that his department has long-range plans to add a new company with seven firefighters, and add seven more to the new facility on 16th Street. “But as we all know, that takes a lot of personnel cost, so we’re going to have plan well in advance for that,” he said. “We’ll probably start some of those talks in November.”
City Council members attending the tour included Steve Galliher, Bob Cross, Wiley Walter, Tollie Rowe, Larry Stevenson, Becca La Strada and Jo Lynn Turley. The new fire station is expected to be in operation by mid-January and totally completed by April. In addition to the chief and assistant chef, the Sedalia Fire Department employs 39 individuals. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.