In council meetings, the group is currently discussing the need for
a new safety complex for the city. A new facility would house both
departments in one location and would increase the amount of space
each department has to do its daily work.
The group started at the
police station, where they spent 30 minutes listening to Chief
Greenslate and his officers provide explanations of what the current
facility is lacking and how it affects their work.
Afterward, the group traveled back to City Hall, where fire Chief
Mark Miller awaited them to provide a tour of the current firehouse.
City officials taking the tour were Mayor Keith Snyder; Sue
McLaughlin, city administrator; Chuck Conzo, city treasurer; Susan
Gehlbach, city clerk; Risa Riggs, council secretary; Russell Wright,
of the street department, and council members Melody Anderson, Kathy
Horn, Marty Neitzel, Tom O'Donohue and Jonie Tibbs.
Miller met the group outside the back door of the firehouse. He
began by reminding the council that the station was one of the
oldest operating stations in the state. He punctuated the comment by
telling the group that in general, he and the department are very
proud of that fact, and they all enjoy having that piece of history
surrounding them daily. However, he said it comes with some definite
He said that first of all, when the department is looking at
purchasing new fire vehicles, they have to be very aware of their
space constraints for height and length. He said this was becoming
more and more challenging, as there are very few fire trucks built
today that are small enough to fit inside the current firehouse.
As he led the group inside to the first bay, the visitors had to
form a single-file line, squeezing between the back of a fire truck
and a large piece of stationary equipment in the bay, to actually
get inside the building.
Miller explained that the building is divided into three bays.
The first bay is abutted to City Hall and contains one fire truck,
the firefighters' emergency pickup truck, a desk area and a workout
area for the firefighters.
Miller pointed out the state-required exhaust system that
includes corrugated hoses hanging from the ceiling and attached to
exhaust pipes on the vehicles. He said this causes issues in that
the hoses block access to doorways and other areas of the station.
He also pointed out, as he took the group from the first bay to
the second, that there is walking room only around the larger fire
truck. He told the group that utility doors on the truck cannot be
opened inside the building, and he showed them that even the cab
doors hit the walls when firefighters are trying to get in and out
of the vehicle.
The second bay on the tour was equally as crowed, with one truck
just fitting inside it.
Miller pointed out that in addition to having to worry about
length of the vehicle, height also becomes an issue. He said the
city's newest truck just barely clears the overhead door when coming
in and out of the building. He also recounted that when there is
snow on the driveway outside, that takes away from the clearance
between the truck and the top of the door, and the door has been
struck as a result.
In that same area, Miller showed the group where firefighters'
protective clothing and gear is stored. He said that from the state
fire marshal's point of view, having the clothing and equipment in
the same open area as the fire truck is not recommended; however,
right now that is the only option the department has.
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Moving on to the third bay, again with standing room only, Miller
talked about the maintenance equipment that is in the bay with a
fire truck. He said it was very crowded and not an ideal situation
At the back of that bay, he pointed out the mechanics room, which
is also the laundry room. He said that it was unacceptable by state
standards to have the laundry being done in the same room where
equipment is being serviced or worked on.
As Miller led the way to the upstairs level, he told the group
that storage is a big issue in the department. He said that for a
time they used the stairwells for some storage, but that is unsafe
and they no longer are allowed to use any of the stairwell space
Upstairs, Miller brought the group into the firefighters'
dormitory. The room consists of several single beds and a bank of
lockers on one wall. Miller said the room serves its purpose but is
not ideal. He noted that with all the beds in one room, there is no
opportunity for the department to hire a female firefighter, as
doing so would require a female dormitory, and there is no way the
department can accommodate that.
Moving on to the kitchen area, Miller reminded the group that
Lincoln firefighters serve 24-hour shifts. They prepare their own
meals and bring their own food. He said the kitchen area is OK, but
it could certainly be larger and more accommodating for the on-duty
He pointed out that there is one bath in the dormitory and
another in the upstairs hall. However, he said the hallway bath is
not just used for its intended purpose. It has also become a closet
of sorts where the department stores cleaning equipment and
Miller wrapped up his tour by showing the group the office areas.
There are three office areas on the second floor. The first small
office is for the fire inspectors and is where they do their
paperwork and reports.
Down the hall just a few feet is a second set of offices. The
first area of the room off the hallway is a shared space for the
department's assistant chiefs and officers. The chief's office is
then accessed by passing through this room. He said the area does
get tight, and the offices get cluttered because there is very
little storage space. He also noted that there are issues with
access to electricity. He said with modern technology in an old
building, there are not enough outlets for all the electronics. He
also noted that with the building construction being brick and
block, adding new electric service is a challenge.
As Miller wrapped up his tour, he, too, talked about a ride-along
program. In the fire department it is a daytime-only opportunity
available to anyone who would like to witness what the firefighters
do on a daily basis. Again there are release forms that have to be
signed in order to participate, so planning ahead is recommended.
With the firehouse tour wrapped up, the aldermen and city
officials moved on to the city council chambers to prepare for their
regularly scheduled committee of the whole meeting.
Among the topics discussed during that meeting was a final
proposal from Mayor Keith Snyder on how the city could fund building
a new safety complex that would include ample space for both the
city's fire department and the police department.
[By NILA SMITH]