New home for Chamber and firefighters

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A new complex of benefit to the community is taking shape right across Silverbrook Cemetery on Main Street in Niles.
The $1,8 million, 15,000 square-feet concrete complex will be Niles City Fire Department's new home, but it will also house the city's new council chambers.
The fire department and the council chambers will be located in separate buildings, with the fire department occupying the largest.
The space in between the buildings, which will be connected by a roof structure, will be the fire department's deck for fire trucks and fire fighting equipment.
Ground breaking took place in late April and completion of the project is expected early next year, said Chief Larry Lamb, Niles City Fire Department, while touring the facilities on Monday.
He also said the fire department has outgrown its current station on South Third Street, and there is no longer adequate administrative or equipment storage facilities available there.
Those, and issues such as inadequate electrical infrastructure and climate control, is also why the Niles City Police Department is moving into a new law enforcement complex on Silverbrook in Niles.
The city police will share space with the Michigan State Police Post 53 and the Niles Township Police at the new complex.
Lamb said currently fire trucks and other expensive fire fighting equipment is stored outside because of a lack of space, or simply because the equipment is too large to fit inside.
Lamb said construction workers are currently in a rush to finish outside concrete work at the new station before the weather gets too cold.
Steelworkers were also on site on Monday framing the main middle section between the two buildings.
Risers that will support the roof connecting the two buildings will be put up on Thursday, he said.
But it's not only on the outside that the fire station is taking shape.
Fifty percent of the wood framing is completed inside the fire department's building, Lamb said.
The living quarters, in which fire fighters will stay while on duty, has a kitchen, a 12-bed bunk room with 19 foot tall ceilings, and fire fighters will have access to a recreational room.
The firefighters will also have access to a modern fitness room.
Lamb said the fire department invests a lot of money on equipment, but if the fire fighters aren't physically in shape, "that equipment's for nothing."
Lamb also said the fire station will have a library that will contain information relevant to fire fighting.
One of the construction phases that could have a direct impact on the public, is the tearing up of and replacing old sidewalks along Main Street by the new complex.
Lamb encourages motorists to be patient, and to contact the fire department with questions related to that, or any other part of the construction phase.
He said the fire department wants to keep the people living in the neighborhood and the community informed.
Some people living in the neighborhood have been opposed to the new fire station because of noise issues.
Lamb, however, thinks the noise will be a lot less than what people are concerned with.
He said the fire department typically does evening training twice month, from 7 to 10 p.m.

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