Chocolay Township firehall open house

HARVEY – The new Chocolay Township Fire Rescue Station on U.S. 41 South in Harvey was unveiled Saturday to an already-supportive community.

The project, which cost an estimated $2.1 million, included construction of a 12,000-square-foot fire station with seven bays, including mezzanine storage, an equipment wash bay, offices and a training room.

It also included replacement of the emergency alert siren and installation of a 30,000-gallon underground water reservoir to provide a ready supply of water to fight fires in the township.

The reservoir is filled from an existing well on the property. The use of well instead of river water is expected to reduce demands on firefighting equipment pumps.

Space was a major concern for the fire department, though, and the new station addresses that issue.

“It gives us a lot more room,” Fire Chief Tom Kidd said.

It’s also safer for the firefighters and the public, Kidd said, because firefighters, instead of having to back out onto U.S. 41 on a call, now can drive through the bays via Silver Creek Road into the station.

“The spatial issues were something to be desired,” Assistant Fire Chief Lee Gould said.

For example, Gould said cabs now can be opened inside instead of outside.

In addition, Kidd pointed out being able to perform tasks out of the winter weather is one of the benefits of the added space.

Gould said if more equipment is needed in 20 years, it will fit.

He said repairs on the old building were adding up as well.

“Those minor maintenance things were just compounding themselves every month,” he said.

The new station also is expected to last longer. The former facility was a pole barn with a 30-year life-span, while the new facility has a 75-year life-span, Gould said.

With the purchase of its newest truck in 2008, the township had outgrown its old fire station. The Chocolay Township Board then established a study committee to determine whether the problem could be addressed through modifying the existing building or building a new one.

After deciding a new facility would be more efficient, the township fire department applied for a federal Troubled Asset Relief Program grant in 2009 to help fund a replacement building, but was denied funding because it didn’t have plans developed and ready to bid for construction.

The board then in 2010 solicited proposals from design firms and selected Integrated Designs Inc. of Marquette.

The firm catalogued the fire department’s needs, reviewed other station designs and met with fire department volunteers, township staff and board members to develop construction plans, which were reviewed by Michigan Energy Options and modified to include current energy-efficiency technology.

In August 2012, township voters approved a special millage of up to 1.7 mills for up to six years to fund the project. Contracts then were awarded to Associated Constructors and Wright Electric Company, both of Marquette, and Escanaba mechanical contractor Berger & King Inc.

Work on the site began in March and will continue in October with the demolition of the former fire station and construction of a parking lot.

The project also involved garnering community support.

“We appreciate everyone in the township,” Gould said. “The support we’ve had has been great.”

Pat Johns of Chocolay Township is one of those appreciative community members who attended Saturday’s open house.

“I see the space and the safety,” Johns said “Everything is so much improved.”

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is