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St. Charles upgrading police, fire facilities

St. Charles emergency services facility. The new building, which will house both the fire department and ambulance service, will provide the services with more space and a modern facility.

ST. CHARLES — Construction crews are busy upgrading and building new facilities for the city's police department, fire department and ambulance service.

Voters approved a $2.3 million bond referendum in 2014 to build a new emergency services building on the site of the former fire hall and expand the facilities for the police department at City Hall. Ground was broken on the projects over the summer by Alvin E. Benike Inc., with completion planned for this winter.

The new facilities will provide a larger and more modern space for the city, St. Charles Fire Chief Lyle Peterson said. The new building will also merge departments, allowing the city to share some resources and avoid duplications.

The emergency services building will be 14,000 square feet, with stay rooms for ambulance personnel working long shifts, Peterson said. The ambulance bay has room for three vehicles as well as support equipment, and the new drive-through fire truck bay has room for three vehicles and a ceiling high enough for crews to work on the truck inside the building — a feature the old fire hall did not have.

Training space will be able to accommodate 50 volunteers at a time Peterson said, as well as more communications infrastructure and improved facilities to clean, wash and store gear. Police department upgrades include an additional conference room, larger evidence storage, a separate interview room and other upgrades to improve privacy when people come in.


"St. Charles is a progressive community that continues to invest in itself and its volunteers, whom are essential to providing services in our greatest time of need," Koverman said of the projects. "These improvements serve as a testament of the positive support that our volunteer fire and ambulance personnel and police department have from the community."

St. Charles City Administrator Nick Koverman said planning for the new emergency services facility began in 2008, when the city reviewed the needs of the fire department and ambulance service. A committee looked at issues such as the lack of training space and safety of volunteers.

The former fire hall was also designated the local command center in the case of emergency. But it lacked adequate infrastructure with only one computer line, one phone line and a non-handicapped-accessible bathroom.

The city's attention was drawn away from the issue in the aftermath of a number of large fires, including the Northstar Foods fire in 2009. With one of St. Charles largest employers gone, Koverman said city officials spent several years focusing on bringing those jobs back to the city. Now, they're ready to turn their attention back to emergency facilities, he said.

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