SCHERERVILLE — For decades, a small fire station nestled in the Plum Creek neighborhood served the town’s north quadrant with volunteer firefighters rushing to gather the equipment stored there when an emergency arose.
“This was originally built in the early 1980s during the volunteer era, and it was built by town employees,” said Fire Chief Joseph Kruzan during a recent tour of the newly renovated Fire Station No. 2 at 280 Plum Creek Drive.
When the Fire Department transitioned to a professional firefighter program more than 12 years ago, part of the plan involved having firefighters live and work from this station during their 24-hour rotations, Kruzan said.
That plan finally came together during the past year.
Deputy Fire Chief Bob Patterson served as manager of the project that added four bedrooms with male and female bathrooms, each featuring showers, an additional bathroom with shower, a great room with reclining chairs and a large flat-screen TV and a full kitchen with separate dining area.
The U-shaped kitchen includes a stainless steel stove and microwave, overhead and under-counter cabinets and a variety of kitchen equipment including a large mixer and coffeepot. Patterson chose the colors for the living quarters — as well as designating a specific color for each shift manning the fire station.
“When we had all the development going in along U.S. 41, the Town Council and board of safety decided it was time to renovate and expand this fire station,” Kruzan said.
The $432,088 renovation included $12,500 for architectural fees and $18,103 for engineering, and total construction costs of $401,484, Clerk-Treasurer Janice Malinowski said.
“Each shift has its own refrigerator and pantry — red, black or gold,” said Battalion Chief Aaron Anderson who’s also the cook during his 24-hour shift.
Shifts last 24 hours from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. with 48 hours off between shifts, Anderson said.
“We made up a list of what we need, just as if you were moving into a new home,” said Lt. Natalie Ferrantella about equipping the new living quarters.
A patio with picnic table and grill off the back of the station connects with Plum Creek Park, and families from the neighborhood often stop by, she said.
During the tour, an EMS call for a welfare check flashed on a giant computer screen. Ferrantella and firefighter/paramedic Jason Oxford responded in the fully equipped ambulance located inside the newly renovated bay area. That area also houses a pumper fire engine and features new lighting, an exhaust system, emergency generator and a treadmill donated by a resident.
“Fire stations were originally built in neighborhoods,” Kruzan said. “This station brings that history back.”