Dickinson’s fire department has been around for more than 120 years, and it feels it’s about time one of its old stations catches up with the times.
The Dickinson Fire Department has about 46 firefighters, and for many them, the fire station is their home away from home.
“The guys joke all the time because their smartphones and computers think this place is their home because they spend more time here than at their home,” said Mark Selle, fire marshal for Dickinson Fire Department.
The old South Station was built in 1930, but when it was initially constructed, it was not intended to be a dedicated fire station.
It was a shared space for many years until the fire department took it over in 1982.
“The police department to the ambulance. . . . city hall. . . .everything has been at this location at one time or another,“ said Selle.
However, in recent years the old South Station has really started to show its age, and a lot of it has to do with the opening of the North Station in 2015 at the Public Safety Center.
“What Station 2 has brought to us is the individual sleeping quarters and extra showers. It made us realize how inefficient this station (South Station 1) was,“ said Selle.
The North Station has multiple individual sleeping quarters, where the South Station has two dormitory rooms.
One of the rooms is smaller and has two beds in it, and the other larger room has three.
Over the years the department has also seen an increase in female firefighters.
They currently have seven, including the assistant fire chief Deb Barros.
Senior firefighter Alaynea Decker said the dormitory style rooms can make things difficult for male and female firefighters.
“It can be inconvenient because you don’t know who is sleeping where, and you can’t go to bed at a decent time, because you have to juggle your things around,“ said Decker.
The South Station also has only one full bathroom with a shower, compared to the multiple ones at the North Station.
The old South Station’s original construction might have been okay when the station was smaller and primarily male many years ago, but now it is starting to become cramped and an inconvenience for the men and women who work out of it.
However, the dark ages are coming to an end, as the station is currently undergoing renovations to create four individual sleeping quarters and an additional bathroom with a shower.
Selle said he hopes the improvements help improve morale when firefighters are staying at the South Station.
“It is better for everybody. It should help us keep people longer because they don’t like to do the night duty process. . . They don’t like sleeping with whoever, or they don’t like the building“.
The improvements to the sleeping quarters and bathrooms are Phase 1 of the project, which the department hopes to have finished in the next four to six weeks.
Selle also said the South Station will be getting a washer and dryer.
Currently, laundry has to be transported up to the North Station to be cleaned.
Selle said Phase 2 will happen next year, and it will focus on opening up the South Station’s kitchen and living space, so the firefighters have more room to work with when they are stationed there.
The renovations for the South Station are projected to cost about $95,000.