When DeKalb Fire Station 2 was built in 1957 at 1154 S. Seventh St., none of the firefighters who are currently housed at the facility had been born.
“There really [has] been nothing done to this station, except some paint, since 1957,” DeKalb Fire Chief Eric Hicks said.
But on Friday, with all of the available DeKalb firefighters, Mayor John Rey, representatives from Sharp Architects and Irving Construction (both based in DeKalb), and members of the local news media and community on hand, fire department pastor Ray Kruger blessed the newly-renovated station and the men who will make it both their home and workplace.
Kruger prayed that the facility would “provide proper rest, proper preparedness and proper conditioning for our firefighters.”
These three goals will be met by the addition of larger, more private sleeping areas, additional office and training space, and a larger and improved fitness room. The $254,000 construction project, which began in September, will add more than 1,200 square feet to the building.
The project was completed within budget and before the Christmas deadline.
Rey, who said he realized that the facility hadn’t changed since he took a group of Boy Scouts on a tour of the building almost thirty years ago, thanked the residents of DeKalb “for underwriting one of the core services for the city,” and acknowledged the City Council, Hicks, and the design and construction team for doing a great job with this project.
“These renovations were sorely-needed. It brings our facilities into ADA compliance. We now have separate sleeping quarters for both male and female [personnel] and also separate restroom facilities,” said Hicks.
“The biggest change for us is now having three available bathrooms, instead of only the one before,” said Lt. firefighter Keith Fritz, who is in his fifteenth year with the DeKalb Fire Department. “In the middle of the night, if you had to get up and go to the bathroom in order to go on a call, there would be a line and we can’t wait, so somebody loses out.
“We’re going from a dorm room to actual living quarters, where we can enjoy our rest when we get the chance to rest. This is a big improvement on the well-being of the people who are in here.”