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Design for new fire station unveiled

The proposed design of the planned new Albert Lea Fire Department fire station was unveiled by Brunton Architects earlier this week.

The 25,000-square-foot precast facility includes 12 apparatus bays, an emergency operations center, a hose and training tower, large training room, offices, second-floor living quarters, fitness room, locker rooms and laundry facilities.

The Albert Lea Fire Station Committee reportedly designed the facility — more than double the department’s current 11,000 square feet in space — over eight to 10 months.

“It’s what every fire station needs,” said Albert Lea Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Laskowske. “Obviously the largest area is bay space — that’s one area where we are lacking right now is area for storing of our apparatus. We’re very, very confined — gives us the height requirements we need for bay space.

“It gives us the necessary office space for supervisors. Right now we’re working out of cubicles, and it’s really tough to work with someone as a supervisor if you’re in a cubicle because you can’t have the conversations you need.”

The site for the proposed fire station has not been established.

Councilors in March approved looking into a site east of the Freeborn County Law Enforcement Center. The council is still considering placing the fire station there or at Blazing Star Landing.

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said Wednesday the city will not finalize a site for the fire station until at least July.

“We have narrowed the site selection to the Newton site and the Blazing Star Landing, but still need some information on the Newton site first before we can appropriately compare the two sites to one another,” he said.

“The building design and layout fits both sites, which is why I authorized Brunton to post the prospective design for their promotional purposes. We may yet modify the size or design of the building slightly, but to date the design and layout has received a favorable response.”

Brunton Architects said in a Facebook post it is “excited to continue the design process with the city of Albert Lea to help them achieve their vision of a truly functional and dependable facility.”

Laskowske spoke highly of the work the architectural firm undertook, including successfully trimming the facility’s square footage from 30,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet.

“Our architect has done an awesome job on designing the structure and getting rid of any unnecessary space,” he said.

Laskowske did not express a preference for the fire station to be at Blazing Star Landing or in the area of Newton Avenue.

“Either one of them will work for us,” he said. “The two sites that they’re looking at are more than sufficient enough for us to make it work.”

The planned new facility is expected to include a room with negative pressure to help clean turnout gear, meant to help reduce cancer rates for firefighters.

Laskowske said the department’s current facility does not meet its space needs.

“The biggest reason is right now we’re jamming stuff into our bays,” he said. “Right now you gotta duck under stuff to get through things. You have to turn sideways to walk between trucks, stuff like that. It gives us the necessary space, which will allow us to work more efficiently in the space.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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