DeKALB – Patrick Eriksen says he and fellow firefighters at DeKalb’s Fire Station No. 2 have been needed more and more lately, and a construction project at his station eventually will help them keep pace.
“Calls have definitely picked up in our area, plus citywide calls have picked up,” he said. “We’re going to [Northern Illinois University] a lot more, to downtown a lot more.”
Construction began in earnest this week on a $254,000 project to expand Fire Station No. 2. The project will add more than 1,200 square feet to the building at 1154 S. Seventh St., including a remodeled workout area, two new unisex bathrooms and a new bunk area with room for five firefighters. Outdated electrical, heating and air-conditioning systems also will be updated.
“It’s built in a pretty good location for this side of town, so we wanted to make sure that we keep the building in pretty good shape,” Fire Chief Eric Hicks said.
Fire Station No. 2 was built in 1957 to accommodate one firefighter, but today houses four, who share one bathroom, 260 square feet of sleeping quarters and a disconnected workout facility that once was a dog pound.
“When I started in 1989, it was lined with cages,” Hicks said. “We took it over in the mid ’90s and made it a workout facility. ... It’ll still be a workout facility, but it’ll be remodeled with a new locker room.”
Plans for the renovation were drafted by Sharp Architects, a DeKalb company, and the construction is being carried out by Irving Construction Co., also of DeKalb. Funds for the project are coming from the city’s Public Safety Building Fund. The City Council approved the project in March.
Hicks said they’re hoping the work will be finished by Christmas.
Eriksen, a seven-year veteran of the DeKalb Fire Department, isn’t permanently stationed at Fire Station No. 2 – he says all the firefighters rotate every year – but they don’t mind the construction crews and the extra noise.
“We’re all pretty excited about it,” he said.