MERRILLVILLE | A project proposed at Merrillville Fire Station No. 1 could promote healthy eating for firefighters and provide environmental benefits.
The department is examining the possibility of planting a green roof at the station at 18 W. 73rd Ave., Fire Chief Ed Yerga said.
The main purpose for the green roof area would be to provide a place where firefighters could plant vegetables.
The vegetable area would be outside the station's kitchen, which is on the top floor of the building.
Yerga recently explained the idea to the Merrillville Fire Protection Territory Board, board member Ron Dudley said.
"I think it's a good idea," he said.
Dudley said the green roof is still in the early planning stages, so town officials haven't determined when it would be planted.
After Merrillville hired its first full-time firefighting crew last year, there was an emphasis on fitness for the firefighters.
Dudley said the vegetable garden on the roof "ties in" with the fitness aspect of the department.
In addition to providing healthy food for the firefighters, gardening in the green roof area would allow firefighters to stay active when they aren't responding to calls for service, he said.
Matt Lake, executive director of Merrillville's Stormwater Utility, said he supports the idea and has offered to assist the Fire Department with the project.
In addition to Lake's experience with stormwater and environmental issues, he also was a firefighter for nine years, he said.
Lake thinks it's "kind of a neat concept" to offer a food source on the station's roof.
"Being at a fire station, you try to utilize all resources as best as you can," Lake said.
He said there are many types of green roofs and they provide different benefits.
Besides the food source, the Fire Department's proposed green area would reduce the amount of stormwater runoff on the property.
Lake said if a green roof is large enough, it could provide heating and cooling benefits, but "this will not be that size."