A beautiful, barn red building sits quietly at the south end of Collins’ Main Street. It will soon be bustling with the sounds of tankers and trucks as they pull in and pull out of the bays.
The community’s new fire station is done - on the outside - and in time, it will be finished on the inside as well.
“We’re hoping to be in it sometime this fall … when it’s at least usuable for the trucks,” said Collins Fire Chief Darren Kennedy.
Mayor Brett Comegys agreed. “The new station will be usable well before winter … it will be OK to get trucks in and out.”
Eventually, the new fire station, for which the exterior was erected this past spring, will have more bells and whistles on the inside.
“All it is right now is a shell. It needs electric and heat… and the city is going through a routine to figure out money-wise what all needs to be in there,” Kennedy said, noting that when it is finished the station will be a very nice and welcome addition to the community and those on the approximately 14-member volunteer fire department.
Kennedy said the station is intended to have a nice meeting room, which will relieve the space crunch the department has in its current fire station, put up around 1979 or 80, Kennedy recalled. He’s been a member of the fire department about 25 years now, and the current station is the only one he’s known.
The current station has served the department well, but it’s become more and more crammed. “It was fine back when we had smaller trucks, but they’re getting bigger and bigger, so it will be nice to have more space,” Kennedy said.
Along with a meeting room, which will help the department when it holds meetings or tries to accommodate training events, the new station will eventually have a small kitchen area for use with fundraisers and such, and handicap-accessible bathrooms, Kennedy said.
As for the truck area, he said each truck (the department has five) will have its own bay door, and more room around it. “We’re probably gaining 50 feet length-wise,” with the new building, Kennedy estimated.
Comegys said the city will continue to work with the community members on being able to fund what he refers to as “creature comforts” for the new fire station. “Basically, we have a rock gravel approach (driveway) at this time. Obviously, we want a concrete approach, but do we have to have that to use the building? No. That (all the additional bells and whistles for the new station) will happen eventually,” the mayor said. At this time, he added, “we’re focusing on the bare necessities to keep the trucks up and going … that’s what we budgeted for at this time.”
Things like community fundraisers, donations and the sale of the old fire station (they have had people looking, but no agreements yet) will all help to finish the things that will add to the eventual completion of the fire station. “There’s lots of things we’re going to have in that building, eventually,” Comegys said.
But it’s important, Comegys added, that the city does its best to offset costs as responsibly as it can without raising property taxes.
A recent $10,000 donation to Collins Fire and Rescue from the Landus Cooperative will help move the project along. Landus presented a check to Kennedy and Comegys in honor of how the company depends on local fire departments during safety inspections, as well as year-round to keep its employees, members and their families safe.
“We are grateful for that and some of the other fundraising and residents who donate money to this. That’s how we’re making the building happen,” Kennedy said.
The Collins volunteer Fire and Rescue Department serves the southeast corner of Story County and also covers a little area into Jasper County. For people who work hard to serve their communities for no pay, Kennedy said having a new building is really a nice thing.
“It’s nice, it makes our town look nice … I think everybody on the department is looking forward to moving in,” he said.