WHITEHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — The White Lake Fire Authority says its Whitehall station in desperate need of upgrades, saying that it’s too old, small and inconveniently located to operate efficiently.
The building is so small that ladder trucks don’t fit inside. Some other trucks have to be stored outside because there’s simply not enough room in the garage.
The station was built in 1954. In the 65 years since then, it has had one renovation to add a small office space for the chief. Staff say there are no resting spaces, kitchenware or sanitation areas for the other firefighters on the job.
“This is our bathroom. We have a one-stall bathroom. We have a filing cabinet in here. That is a medical rack,” Capt. Peter McCarthy pointed out as he walked News 8 through the building Wednesday. “That’s where we store all of our medical supplies because there’s no room in the office area for it.”
McCarthy said two of the fire engines are almost 30 years old and have reached the end of their lifespan.
The Fire Authority is asking for millage rate increase of 1.65 mills over the next five years to pay for two new trucks priced at $384,000 each and a new $2.7 million fire station.
The department plans to build the new station near the industrial park off Cogswell Avenue and White Lake Drive. The current one is just four blocks from the most northwest point of its 54-mile jurisdiction. McCarthy said that means it can take up to 18 minutes for crews to make it to an emergency.
“With a medical emergency or a car accident, minutes can be the difference between life and death. When someone is down and not getting oxygen, after four minutes, you’re talking about potential brain damage. So any second we can cut off is the best we can do for our community,” he said.
The department says this is not the first time it has requested these upgrades. After being rejected, it slimmed down the project’s costs. Now it hopes the millage will pass.
“We provide a great service to this community even up against the facilities that we have. The upgrade is going to allow us to be a little bit more efficient,” McCarthy said.
The department says the new building will not lead to any changes at the Fruitland Township station. That location will still function as normal.
Muskegon County residents will be able to vote on the issue Nov. 5. For more information on how the millage rate will affect your bottom line, contact your municipality.