ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Alpine Township firefighters have “officially” moved into their new home.
While they’ve been operating out of the new Station One since May, the facility was dedicated on Friday.
Located on Henze Drive, behind the Alpine Avenue Sam’s Club, the $3 million firehouse replaces cramped quarters and gives the department room to grow.
The station features many firehouse traditions, like the large kitchen table. The table is custom-made by Ridgeline Woodcraft in Alpine and features the department’s new logo.
“Anyone who understands fire and fire history knows that a lot happens around the dinner table,” Deputy Fire Chief Jeremy Kelly said.
There are also several modern amenities such as separate rooms that have replaced barrack-style sleeping areas for firefighters.
“It’s nice that they have their own privacy,” Kelly said.
But the biggest advantage is space.
The new, five-bay Station One replaces the department’s 1950’s era main station on Alpine Avenue and Alpine Church Road.
“You couldn’t even stand next to a truck and wash it without hitting the truck next to you,” Kelly said.
Voters approved a millage in 2020 to pay for the new station, located at a former Alpine Church Road.
The township was able to use the existing church building, adding room for the fire engines on the side and using the other space to create a community room.
“There’s been some concern about the location,” Kelly said. “But the majority of our calls are in this area, (with) 85% of our calls are in Station One’s district.”
One tradition you won’t find at Alpine’s new fire station is a fire pole. The risk of injury from fire poles has made them almost obsolete. Instead, they’ll glide from the second-floor sleeping area to the apparatus floor on a custom-built slide.
While it may look like fun, the slide is one of the many features built into the station to improve safety for firefighters.
The original plan had firefighters climbing down a set of stairs from the second-floor floor sleeping area, but stairs can be hazardous too.
“We’ve all done it. We ran down a set of stairs, we’ve missed a stair, roll and ankle, hurt a knee,” Kelly said.
The slide is a safer approach.
The laundry room is another example of improved safety features.
These days, firefighters face hazards beyond the flames with smoke generated by foam in furniture, insulations and other items have increased cancer risk for firefighters.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health looked at cancer rates for close to 30,000 firefighters from Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco between 1950 and 2009. The study found that firefighters were two times more likely to get mesothelioma than the rate in the U.S. population as a whole.
While firefighters do use self-contained breathing apparatus while fighting a fire, those carcinogens cling to clothing and other gear. The extractor at the station, which looks like a washing machine on steroids, is designed to remove cancer-causing carcinogens from firefighters’ clothing.
“It’s high temperature, high speed. It’s meant to get the hydrocarbons out of the turnout gear,” Kelly said. “Having the extractor, it gives us the ability to make sure everyone’s gear is getting washed after every structure fire.”
The station also has an improved system to limit the diesel exhaust that enters the station.
“So none of those contaminants from the exhaust are coming into the apparatus bay or working their way up into the sleeping quarters,” Kelly said.
Along with all the safety features and upgrades, the new fire station has allowed for increased growth.
“Just last month our call volume, we were up 57 calls than where we were last year at this time,” Kelly said.