FAIRFIELD – The city of Fairfield has purchased two buildings formerly occupied by the Iowa Department of Transportation near the intersection of North Fourth Street and West Briggs Avenue.
Fairfield City Administrator Aaron Kooiker said the city is likely going to tear down one of the buildings and remodel the other into a new garage capable of holding all the fire department’s equipment. The buildings are now vacant, since the DOT moved into new offices on the south side of town. Kooiker said the city will probably tear down the west building since it has more asbestos.
“It will be cheaper to tear it down rather than leave it up,” he said.
Kooiker said the fire department has outgrown its current fire station on North Second Street, which prompted the city to look for parcels of land where it could build a new station.
Kooiker said the city is still exploring ways to fund the tear down and remodel.
“We might be able to use a [United States Department of Agriculture] grant to fund the construction. There’s a grant that would cover 55 percent of the cost of the building,” Kooiker said. “We still need to hire an architect and an engineer, but it looks like we’re moving in the direction of building a fire station at that location.”
Kooiker said the main advantage of the DOT lot is that it’s centrally located. It’s a couple of blocks west of the current fire station, putting it in the heart of the city.
“The fire department will be able to respond to everywhere in the city in a reasonable amount of time,” Kooiker said.
Fairfield Fire Chief Scott Vaughan said the department is cramped in its current space. Its rescue boat has to sit outside the station because there isn’t room for it inside. Other pieces of equipment, such as an all-terrain vehicle, are stored in a garage on the north side of the building, which is inconvenient to get to during an emergency.
Driver Mark Brown said the department is about to acquire a rescue pumper, and it will “just barely fit in here,” referring to the current station.
“We have zero room to grow,” Brown said. “We couldn’t get another vehicle even if we wanted to.”
Vaughan said the department’s smoke trailer is housed off-site near the Jefferson County Law Center. It’s out in the elements, which he said reduces its lifespan.
“A couple thousand kids go through that trailer every year,” Vaughan said. “It would be nice to be able to put it under a roof.”