Rotarians tour new firefighter digs

The Sunnyside Noon Rotary Club yesterday (Monday) enjoyed a tour of the new Sunnyside fire station.
The tour began in the station’s lobby, which has been set up for security and public access, according to Fire Chief Aaron Markham.
He provided a brief overview of the history behind the fire station, stating he began working on plans to construct a safer work environment for the fire department staff approximately 10 years ago.
“Bob Stockwell was still the city manager,” said Markham.
He said a little more progress was made on the plan with each subsequent city manager.
The city eventually purchased the property next to the Sunnyside Fire Department, located at the corner of South Eighth Street and East Franklin Avenue, which spurred the progress even more.
Markham said that’s when the city placed a bond on the ballot, and taxpayers overwhelmingly approved a $5.3 million bond that will also allow the fire department to purchase a ladder truck.
“The new station is about 95 percent complete…the old building, which was constructed in 1965, needs asbestos removal,” said Markham, stating firefighters have moved into the new facility as the old facility is being refurbished.
He said the new station’s counter, behind which staff will greet members of the public, provides better access to citizens with disabilities. There are also restrooms for the public and drinking fountains.
In addition, the public now has access to off-street parking to make it easier for those visiting the station for blood pressure checks and visits to the station.
The tour moved into the training room, which eliminates the use of the firefighters’ day room for such purposes. Markham said the room is large enough to also train city staff.
“The city used to rent space,” he said.
The training room is equipped with a projector and ports for various electronic devices that may be used for presentations.
“The training room is also set up to serve as a disaster center,” Markham said.
Moving on to the apparatus bays, he said the facility has the latest in technology for keeping the environment and equipment safe. Radiant heating will keep equipment warm and an exhaust system has a number of measures for keeping carbon monoxide out of the bays. There are sensors that will automatically trigger fans to the bays if there is too much carbon monoxide build-up.
The new station also has a mezzanine that will be used for storage. “Storage is at a premium,” said Markham, stating the fire department has equipment that would not fit in the old facility. It is stored in other city buildings and will soon be moved to the new station.
The Rotarians also toured the area designated for the firefighters. There is an open day room with a fully equipped kitchen and private sleeping quarters.
The private sleeping quarters, said Markham, are important because firefighters no longer will share space. He told the Rotarians a study was completed a few years ago that indicated this was a necessary step for keeping Sunnyside firefighters healthy.
“And it reduces sleep deprivation,” Markham joked, stating some firefighters found snoring among the ranks to be disturbing.

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