South Elgin fire district’s two new fire stations finished and in use


South Elgin and Countryside Fire Protection District firefighters have left their nearly 70-year-old downtown fire station digs for two newly completed firehouses funded through a $10 million tax referendum.

The 20,000-square-foot station at 1090 W. Spring St., which also houses the district’s administrative staff, and a 12,000 square-foot facility at 498 South Elgin Blvd. became operational this summer. With three stations now available, response times for incidents on both sides of the Fox River will improve, officials said.

“We had a lot of great memories (at the former 150 W. State St. station),” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Rothecker, who started with the district as a part-time firefighter in the 1990s. “It is bittersweet, but we are very fortunate to move into a new building.”

In addition to more space for the administrative offices, the two-story station on Spring Street has a vehicle bay large enough to house an engine, tower ladder, ambulance, brush truck, rescue boat and utility vehicles.

The building can accommodate up to five firefighter/paramedics, all of the district’s administrators and the office manager, and provides more living space and amenities for the employees who work 24-hour shifts, Rothecker said.

The new South Elgin Boulevard station was built to house three firefighter/paramedics as well as an ambulance and engine.

Both stations are manned 24/7.

South Elgin purchased the old Spring Street firehouse for $350,000, and plans to tear it down so the land can be used to park village vehicles and police cars.

Fire station construction cost $12 million, with about $10 million coming from a bond sale approved by district voters in 2018. The goal was to replace the older fire station downtown and add a new station east of the Fox River and the railroad tracks, officials said.

“We just simply outgrew (the downtown building),” he said. “It was far more reasonable to just build a new station for response purposes.”

The second station was needed to serve the district’s growing population on South Elgin’s east side, where several new subdivisions, a new high school and a new middle school have been built in the last 10 years, Rothecker said.

It’s estimated emergency response times will be cut by as much as four minutes thanks to the new stations, he said. Vehicles will no longer get blocked by freight trains going through town, he said.

The district, which encompasses 7.5 square miles in South Elgin and 17 square miles of unincorporated land, will also save about 25% in energy costs because LED lighting is being used, Rothecker said.

Village Administrator Steve Super said the increased space at the new Spring Street location is a boon because “there’s much more room for equipment, training, all their needs. I think its a great upgrade for the fire personnel.”

An event to celebrate the new facilities being finished had to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, but open houses will be held when it’s safe again to do so, Rothecker said. Anyone interested in seeing either building can arrange for a tour using social distancing guidelines, he said.

Article courtesy of the Chicago Tribune: