Cornbelt ready for office renovation

The Cornbelt Fire Department is ready to begin the next phase of updating the station by renovating the section of the building, which was built in 1953, to include six office spaces including a recognizable entrance to the building.

Cornbelt Fire Chief John Koller said this renovation has always been part of the Cornbelt Board’s plan.

“This board today and boards of the past have always looked to our future,” Koller said. “They have been able to save the money to do this.”

The 8-week renovation is scheduled to begin at the beginning of March has been budgeting at $300,000. With the completion of the $2.5 million Franklin Street station, the Cornbelt was able to relocate apparatus from the three bays located in the 1953 station. At one point in time, Cornbelt had to have a custom truck tailored to fit in the 10-foot wide by 40-foot deep bays.

Because custom-made trucks are not financially responsible, and often times do not include all of the features needed to complete the work Cornbelt needs to do, the Cornbelt board believes the 1953 bays will be better served as offices.

Currently, the six offices located in the upper level of the station, host the Chief, Assistant Chief, Captain, Lieutenants, Trustees and the Administrative Assistant.

“Fire departments are so much more than big red trucks rolling down the street,” Koller said. “Just like any organization, schools, fire department, police, we’re paperwork heavy, we’re regulated more today than we ever have been. And there is nothing wrong with that, it’s great, but it requires a lot of work and hours from our folks, so as far as the internal part of it, it will allow us to operate more efficiently.”

Once relocated to during the renovation, the former offices will become a central location for files, bunk rooms, storage or some recreation areas.

“We are asking people to be here and away from their families, so anything that is nice, that we can do for our folks, we’re going to do that as well,” Koller said.

Part of the reason Cornbelt is making this change now is because, although they had an ADA waiver, they will no longer be compliant with ADA standards if the entrance and office do not become ADA compliant.

Koller also said this change will benefit the community because with five additions to the Cornbelt building, there are also five-separate entrances, and oftentimes, community members are unsure of where they should enter. The renovation will include parking in front of the building and a recognizable entrance on the east side.

“We have external and internal customers; this is going to satisfy the need for both,” Koller said.

After the renovation of the 1953 part of the building, the Cornbelt board will evaluate the cost of the project before they begin an additional renovation of the station. The next phase will include a training room where the 50 volunteers can conduct their training effectively. Currently, the Cornbelt trains for 750 hours per month total.

Koller said the Cornbelt board is invested in looking at the Department as the community grows and changes. More changes may come down the road, but Koller said it always goes back to “What more can we do for our community? And how can we do it better?”

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