More than 600 people came to Freedom High School to answer one question Wednesday night: should the town build a bigger, proposed $3.9 million fire facility or not?
The votes are in and with 337 votes, the town will move into a new and improved station.
“I think it’s a very much needed facility,” says Freedom resident Gary Vervoort. “The one we have now is downtown in a crowded area where it’s hard to get it in, hard to get the trucks back into, it’s right across from the church. It’ll be much more convenient to have it outside of town where the EMTs and the fire trucks and everything that’s needed can get out of town in a hurry.”
Freedom’s fire chief says there’s just not enough space for the fire or EMS crews in the curernt building and it poses several safety issues for the staff.
“Studies have shown that proper decontamination needs to take place within an hour after a call and we’ve got no shower facilities, we’ve got no locker facilities of any sort at the station,” says Chief Mark Green. “So that’s really a big deal nowadays in terms of health and wellness for our people.”
To pay for the new facility, which would be built at Schmidt Road and Highway E, property taxes would increase, about $48 for a $100,000 home.
Some residents say that’s a small price to pay.
“I’m not really concerned about the property taxes because if you don’t keep up with the insurance, your fire insurance is going to go up, so I think it’s kind of a wash in that sense” says Vervoort.
Now that the plan will move forward, the department hopes they can not only grow their building, but their crew as well.
“It allows us the opportunity to make sure our people are safe and taken care of after calls, safe getting in and out of the station,” says Green. “Being an attractive entity that people want to be involved in when they come and see what we’re about and be willing to stick around for years to come.”
The designs for the new fire station are preliminary, the town says they will create something more permanent now that the townspeople have voted in favor of the project.