BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — A Battle Creek neighborhood is getting its firehouse back after being closed for more than a year for renovations.
Station 4 on the city’s west side reopened Monday. Water damage to the roof of the 76-year-old fire station had made it unsafe and it needed repairs.
The fire station is firefighters’ second home and the crew of Engine 4 is happy to be back.
“Very good to be back home. Very happy!” Lt. Jeannell Justin said.
A 27-year BCFD veteran, Justin has a special attachment to the station on S. 20th Street at W. Territorial Road.
“I’ve spent most of my career here. I love this community. It was hard to have to move away from it,” Justin said. “I’ve been here a long time and it’s important to me that we provide a good service to the community. And it was a struggle when we had to close this, for me personally.”
The doors closed and crews from Engine 4 were scattered to other stations when Station 4 was taken out of service on Feb. 1, 2022. A lack of proper drainage on the station’s flat roof had been causing problems for years. When the ceiling began to come down, the city had to do something.
“Drains would get plugged, then water starts coming in. Pipes broke. We had pipes broken in the walls, water running in. It was an interesting time,” Justin said.
Some $650,000 and 14 months later, a large pipe now carries water off the roof. Holes in the ceiling are covered with metal sheets. Other parts of the station where firefighters work, train, eat and sleep during their 24-hour shifts were also updated.
“We have new carpet. They had to fix the plaster in here because it was cracking and falling. So that all got fixed. New light fixtures,” Justin showed News 8 Monday.
The temporary closure of the firehouse highlighted a problem Battle Creek’s been dealing with for years. Neighborhoods and populations have changed over the decades. Many of the city’s six firehouses, two of which are well over 100 years old, are outdated and in some cases no longer where they need to be to answer calls for help. For years, the city’s main fire station close to downtown housed only administration, no emergency crews. That changed when Station 4 went on its 14-month hiatus.
“We had to do some shuffling around of rigs, but it allowed us to put our aerial ladder truck back downtown, where most of our taller buildings are at,” Battle Creek Fire Chief Bill Beaty said.
The city has ordered a study of all public safety response abilities, including facilities, hoping to get roadmap for the future. The report is expected to be finished in the next few weeks.
“We’re looking forward to see what this one comes back with and the insight that it gives us, the tools that it gives to the city commission to direct where we go from here,” Beaty said.
Station 4’s four-neighborhood district is the second largest in the city. The station’s reopening will improve response times in the district.
Justin said while that important, it’s also good to be home.
“We always call our district our people. These are our people. So we’re home with our people. And we’re happy to be back with them,” Justin said.