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Tight squeeze for fire trucks

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ANN MARIE AMES
April 4, 2008
— Chief Dennis Ahrens won’t know whether to be happy or sad if he gets federal grant money to buy a new tanker truck.

If he gets the truck, he won’t know where to put it.


The town of Beloit has outgrown its fire station at 2445 Afton Road, Ahrens said. The discussion has gone on for several years about whether to build a new one, he said.


The town board will take up the discussion again at 4:15 p.m. Monday, April 14, at the Beloit Town Hall, 2871 S. Afton Road, Beloit.


In February, the town board rejected Angus Young Architect’s proposal for a new $3.4 million fire department and $1.4 million town hall. The two projects would have increased the town’s tax levy by 22.5 percent, Administrator Bob Museus said.


Angus Young has not gone back to the drawing board because the firm is waiting for direction from the town. That could come April 14, Museus said.


The fire headquarters was built in 1964 and was sufficient for the town’s needs at the time, Ahrens said. Now, rather than ordering equipment that fits the needs of the town, Ahrens has to order equipment that fits the 2,600-square-foot apparatus floor.


The department’s 1,800-gallon, 19-year-old tanker is the next piece of equipment that needs to be replaced. But the 3,000-gallon tanker Ahrens wants wouldn’t fit in the station. As it is, the small tanker—and the rest of the equipment—is parked inches away from the doors and walls with barely enough room for firefighters to squeeze between the equipment.


In 2004, Ahrens ordered a pumper truck to fit the building. He wants a longer one that could hold more equipment, he said.


“A special size doesn’t mean the right size,” Ahrens said.


In the staging area, the department doesn’t have enough room for all its gear. And the classroom is a tight squeeze for the department’s 43 members.


The living quarters has one bathroom, which isn’t fair for the two women that work as paid-on-call firefighters, Ahrens said.


Nails poke through the ceiling where the roof has been repaired many times, giving fire fighters lots to chase other than fires, Ahrens said.


“We’re constantly chasing leaks.”



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