Beatrice shows off plans for new fire station

BEATRICE, Neb. - This week, people are getting their first look at a new fire station in Beatrice.

Beatrice Fire and Rescue has released renderings of a new fire station planned to open in 2021. (Source: Beatrice Fire and Rescue)

Over the last ten years, Beatrice Fire and Rescue has seen a steady increase in calls. In 2019, the department responded to a record 2,800 calls for service, and is on pace to break the 3,000 call mark this year.

Beatrice Fire is hoping a new station will help better serve the community.

Right now, Fire Chief Brian Daake said few people in Beatrice actually know where the station is.

"I mean, I get it, because we're in the basement of the city auditorium," Daake said.

The department moved to that location off Ella St. back in 1965. It was supposed to be a temporary location, and the crew has outgrown the space.

"We started with 5 apparatus, and now we're up to 14 apparatus," Daake said. "When everything is in here, it's double triple stacked and we have a couple of vehicles that we have a two inch clearance from bumper to bumper."

Now, 55 years later, the department is finally moving out. The city released a one-minute video showing off the design for a new station.

The plan is for the new station to be on Highway 77 in the south part of town.

"It's just really going to change the dynamics of the community," Daake said. "We'll be in an actual fire rescue station, designed for it, set up that way, as opposed to just filling space."

The new facility features large windows for natural light, individual living spaces, and a decontamination station. It also has 16,000 sq. ft. of garage space. The current facility has just 6,000.

"We've spent a lot of time at fire department design conferences learning about new stations and learning from stations that have been in operation for a while because we can learn what they wish they'd do differently," Daake said.

Daake said the new design is focused on firefighter health and safety.

"Right now, we don't have a decontamination station properly set up here, and we really need that to lower cancer risk and cardiac problems," Daake said. "We also need to incorporate that natural light to help make the space more inviting and fight PTSD for our guys."

Overall, Daake said the goal is to make the space beneficial for firefighters and the community as a whole.

"Our firefighters spend a third of their life here and they work 24 hour shifts so we need to combine that business, residential and garage space all in one," Daake said. "We also just want it to be a source of pride for our community."

The department will open bids to contractors in the next few weeks, then take the proposal to City Council.

Chief Daake hopes to break ground in May, and have the new station open in the fall of 2021.