BUREAU — The Bureau Fire Department is building up its own identity as construction of its new facility progresses.
The frame structure for the new building, which will house the fire department’s five fire trucks and the Bureau County Command Unit, has been set and is well on the way to completion.
Bureau Fire Chief Tim Shipp was satisfied with the progression of the project, which began in early July.
The addition is being built on the grounds of the former Leepertown Grade School, which dissolved in June 2012.
In 2009 the fire department was awarded a $215,000 Illinois Jobs Now Grant, and it was intended to cover the expense of a pole building that could house all the fire trucks in one location. At the time, the fire department was sharing space within the Bureau Village Hall and housed some of its equipment at Indian Valley Stone and Timber.
The grant monies were not received by the fire department until January of this year. With the five-year delay, the size of the project had to be condensed because of the increase in construction materials. In a previous interview with Shipp, he reported the district had to cut about $40,000 of expenses from the original project plan.
The total cost of the project is expected to be around $265,000. Shipp said the extra $50,000 will come out of the district’s share of the existing tax levy.
With the project’s five-year setback however, Shipp said it’s nice to finally get the project started, and it will be great to see it once its completed.
“One of the main reasons it will be nice getting this completed is we will save 12 to 15 minutes of response time for our rural and mutual aid calls,” he explained.
Right now, Bureau has to send volunteer firefighters out of town to pick up a pumper truck, before coming back into town to pick up the remaining crew and heading to the call.
“It will also be nice because this gives the village hall more space with us out of there, and having our own location gives us our own identity,” Shipp said.
Volunteer firefighters have come forward and offered to volunteer their time to put in a water main to the new building addition and construct restrooms at the facility.
The project is expected to be completed by November, but Shipp said with construction going so well, they hope to maybe shoot for a completion date around the end of September or first of October.
The fire district is using the newer portion of the former school building for office space. The older sections of the building are being used for fire training, and Shipp said the community has expressed interested in using other portions of the building for a community museum. There has been talk about displaying memorabilia on the former school, fire department, railroads and other community artifacts.
The fire department is also planning to host an open house event in the spring to show off the new facility to community members.
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