Fire department out grows building, no money for new station

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

ALTON, MO (KAIT) - The Alton Fire Department has out grown its 60's era building. Some trucks have to sit outside and all equipment must be removed and stored in the already crowded building. Fire Chief Eddie Johnson says; "A lot of my firefighters they drive their own personal vehicles out there so we'll just send one of us back and get what we need and hope for the best."

It takes careful driving to get the biggest fire truck out the roll up doors. Former Fire Chief and current city alderman Tom Young showed me some scrapes on the door frames and loose mirrors on the truck. "We need a bigger building. It's too small, it was designed for fire trucks back in the 70's. At the time there was one city truck and one rural truck."

With the purchase of the newest truck in 01, suddenly the building seemed to shrink and the manually operated roll-up doors got smaller.

You've got about an inch clearance between the wall and the mirror on the drivers side. And on the passenger side you've got about 4 inches.

Also the building isn't big enough to park all the trucks in. 2 units have to sit out in the weather with no equipment on them. The brush truck hides in a lean-to between the fire department and city hall.

Chief Johnson showed me the outside trucks. "We keep water off of them. We keep our ladders and all of our gear and everything we can keep in there because obviously if we leave them sitting our here somebody might walk by and decide they need a piece of equipment to borrow and then it never shows back up."

Excess equipment and no storage often results in a firefighter having to return to the station to get something during a fire.

Three of the trucks are nonfunctional. Weather has been hard on the vehicles. The tanker used to sit outside until a wintertime call came in.

Young, "And when we got there it was frozen so we couldn't get the water off. So we took an axe and pretty much destroyed a valve to get the water out."

Young and the other Alderman have looked at plans for a new station.

"Does the city have the money? No." Young said. They will try to get a matching federal grant.

Young said they would like to double the stations size. "Four to 5 bays, yes at least double this size. And more than double this size because we'd actually like to have places we could train." Currently there is no training room at the station, either the trucks have to be moved outside or a different location must be found.

Young said they are working hard toward raising money. "If they can get that with people volunteering and the firemen are going to have fundraiser's. That maybe we can have a facility we can be proud of."

Recently the local bank  held a fundraiser and sold  cinnamon rolls and apple turnovers.

Young, "And we just got a check for a little over 3 Thousand 3 Hundred dollars." That money will go into the nest egg for the new building.

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