Grand Traverse Metro Fire Receives Approval for Improvements

"There’s a lot of growth going on. A lot of people have figured out this is where they want to live." -Garfield Twp. Supervisor Chuck Korn

Three townships have now signed off on plans for Grand Traverse Metro Fire to make improvements.

Gt MetroGrand Traverse Metro Fire is looking to make safety and infrastructure changes at two fire stations. But they needed approval from three townships within the fire district to make it happen.

Two of those three townships, East Bay and Garfield, had already given the project the go-ahead. And the third, Acme Township, also approved it Tuesday night.

Grand Traverse Metro Fire Chief Pat Parker says, “None of these stations that we have were built for 24-hour people for staffing.”

Parker says the funding request will go to regular upkeep but also safety issues. Inside the stations there are crumbling concrete and floor drains that don’t always work.

“Both of those stations have floor drain failures,” Parker says.

Gt Metro Station 11

GT Metro Fire Station 11, Veterans Drive & Albany, Garfield Township

The worst conditions are at Station 11, off of Veterans Drive in Garfield Township.

“Floor drains are actually caving in. The drainage there freezes in the winter time. We have to get in there and get it rooted out a couple of times a year,” Parker says.

Supervisor Chuck Korn says the proposal has the support of Garfield Township.

“We try to work with ‘What’s good for Metro?’ As the approach. We want to be equal partners. We’re always willing to pay our share,” Korn says.

The projects present the opportunity for Metro to make some other improvements as well.

Chief Parker says, “While we’re doing that it would be a great time to upgrade that station (11) and put in dormitories for the firefighters.”

Station 11 is coming up on 44-years-old, and there’s still no dedicated sleeping quarters for full time firefighters. They turned two offices into one-bed bunks.

“They’re not really dorms. They’re old offices. Barely enough to have a bed in there. We’re building with a little growth in mind. Sometimes we do have three people (who need a place to sleep). I’m looking down the road which is why we’re building four dormitories,” Parker says.

For a department that was once staffed by volunteers, but now has full-time staff, Parker says the living quarters are needed for functionality and even for recruitment.

“They’re there for 24 hours every third day. They’re working a 24 hour shift, so you want to have facilities that are comfortable for them. That there’s a place they can relax on off-times. And it’s a place that also can attract new employees.”

Chuck Korn agrees. “Dormitories and a work out room, these are all a part of modern firefighting.”

Gt Metro Fire

GT Metro Station 9, High Lake Rd, East Bay Township

Meanwhile, the meeting space and conference room at Station 11 also doubles as the weight room, and that means conducting trainings and staff meetings right next to the treadmills and barbells.

Chief Parker says, “The training room, it was built for housing a desk for North Flight, a desk for our crews, all the workout equipment is in there…(now) it’ll just be a training room and we’ll have the space there to do it right.”

They’re budgeting $700,000 for the projects. That includes $625,000 set aside for Station 11 and $75,000 for Station 9. But they’ll use what they already have in the bank to fund half of it.

Chief Parker says that means “350 down in cash. We’re going to finance 350. We’re going to pay half in cash, half we’re going to finance. It encumbers our three township beyond the current budget year so we have to get their approval.”  Parker says those estimates are on the high side, with a cushion built in, in case other issues arise.

Chief Parker is hoping the work starts this fall and is done before the worst of the winter weather.

“Hopefully we can move our fire trucks back inside by Dec. 1.”

Meanwhile, Metro Fire is also looking for property in Acme Township to eventually build a new fire station there.