The community filled the equipment bays of Sedalia Fire House No. 2 on Sunday afternoon to show their support, as firefighters and local officials for the first time, opened to the public the new station that is expected to serve the area for decades to come.
“It got to be about 10 minutes before 1 p.m. and I thought maybe people won’t be able to come until later, and then they all seemed to come at one time,” joked SFD Chief Mike Ditzfeld. “I can’t express how long it seemed to get to this point, but the guys have been patient. Everything far exceeds our expectations and we are very happy to be here today.”
Thus almost six years after the idea of a new fire station was first discussed at a city council meeting in 2008, the new facility was put on display. After a few brief remarks by SFD commanders and Mayor Steven Galliher, the ribbon was cut and the tours began.
“It was a good turnout. People are interested in the new fire station,” said Mayor Galliher. “I think it’s money well spent. It will provide the city with good fire protection, which we’ve always had, but the better the tool the better the job you can do. A lot of thought and effort went into this. Everything is coming in under budget, which is great. This will be an asset for many years to come.”
Many members of the community agreed the fire department is indeed an asset to the community. People young and old enthusiastically looked on the features of the new station throughout the afternoon as firefighters explained the layout of the new building.
“I think it’s pretty nice. It’s a pretty neat station. From what they had here, to this, oh yeah,” said David Stockton of Sedalia. “I’ve never been in the old facility, but I know it wasn’t very big, probably a quarter of this size.”
The new facility contains an eight-person bunkroom, a kitchen-living area, workout room, administrative offices and a training facility. It has a four-bay equipment area and many other amenities. The price tag for the 13,000 square foot station was less than $3.9 million. Sedalia resident Debbie Wenit says it was a good investment.
“I think it’s awesome. It looks really nice. They’ve done a lot of work,” she said.
According to SFD, the opportunity to secure additional land to accommodate the facility surfaced after the construction of the new National Guard Armory. Talks began in 2010 but a land conveyance from the state that required legislative approval was needed. In Dec. 2011 that legislation was introduced, was signed by Gov. Jay Nixon and went into effect Aug. 2012. The location was carefully chosen to provide a timely response and correspond with the growth trends of the city.
“I think it’s a great addition for what they have here. They needed something more substantial. The town is moving this direction so they needed something on this side of town that will lend itself to what they have and be more responsive. When someone is being saved I think it will be a great investment,” said John Church of Sedalia.
The road from the concept of a new fire house to the new modern facility that firefighters celebrated on Sunday afternoon took years. Money was first appropriated in fiscal year 2011. During that year construction managers and engineers were hired for phase one of the project. Also during that year city staff began exploring financing options and financing was approved in March of 2012 using certificates of participation with debt service payments coming from the city’s capital improvement funds.
“There was enough data out there to support what we were trying to accomplish. The biggest hurdle was funding it. We have been lucky here in Sedalia over the last eight to ten years. Our revenues have been holding steady. When the economy plummeted we were kind of already into this thing. There has been so much private investment in this community, we’ve got multi-family dwellings out here, we’ve got business, educational, all those things require us to be built up in this area,” said Ditzfeld.
SFD offered kids a chance to play firefighter through a simulation and demonstrated the equipment. The new ladder truck was on display as was the Jaws of Life, a tool used in extricating victims of car accidents from the wreckage.
In addition to serving the 20,430 residents of Sedalia, SFD provides mutual aid to protect the 19,691 non-city residents of Pettis County. SFD also provides mutual aid to the Missouri state capital in Jefferson City 60 miles to the east and to the facilities and personnel of Whiteman Air Force Base 20 miles to the west.