Public Safety

Marion buys land for third fire station

Construction to start next year near Tower Terrace Road

This aerial photo, taken Tuesday, shows the future home of Marion’s third fire station along Tower Terrace Road (bottom) near Gill Park. The city completed the land purchase this week for about $1 million. Construction should begin early next year. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
This aerial photo, taken Tuesday, shows the future home of Marion’s third fire station along Tower Terrace Road (bottom) near Gill Park. The city completed the land purchase this week for about $1 million. Construction should begin early next year. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
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MARION — After years of searching, the Marion Fire Department has secured a site for the community’s third fire station.

The site, just north of Gill Park and south of Tower Terrace Road, provides a prime spot for rapid response to emergencies in the growing city and also gives room for the department to grow its firefighting force.

“Our goal for all medical calls is to be there within four minutes of the call, for response time,” Fire Chief Debra Krebill said. “When you look at the growth, the development north in Marion, we will be able to meet that four-minute goal much easier.”

Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn said

The city closed on the land purchase — about $1 million — on Monday, Marion City Manager Lon Pluckhahn said.

Pluckhahn said the city had been searching for years for property for a third fire station — knowing that Tower Terrace Road, which will be connected to Interstate 380 in a few years, would be an ideal location.

It was the YMCA’s purchase of land near the corner of Tower Terrace Road and Alburnett Road earlier this year that got the ball rolling, he said.

Curt and Barbara Gill, who sold the land destined for the new Regional YMCA of Marion, also sold the city property for the future fire station.

The land also will add some parking and space to the nearby Gill Park, named after the Gill family.

“The big challenge was making sure we secured the right site so we got the best benefit for the community,” Pluckhahn said. “That conversation opened the door.”

Krebill said OPN Architects will design the new fire station, which will include considerable input from the department itself.

“They’re the ones who are going to be living in the building, so they should have a say,” she said.

Many of the new station’s features will be fleshed out over the next few months, Krebill said, adding she aims to incorporate elements that provide a safer workspace for firefighters.

A separation between the living quarters and where trucks and bunker gear are kept — as well as special washing units called extractors to remove cancer-causing soot — will provide a safer workspace, she said. What’s more, she added, she’d like the building to have biophilia design elements — built with a connection to nature — to benefit firefighters’ mental health.

In 2015, a study commissioned by the Marion Fire Department found a need for two additional fire stations to reduce response times in the city.

The study recommended Tower Terrace Road for the third station and a fourth station near Highway 13 and 35th Avenue by 2021.

Marion’s current two stations are at 600 Eighth Ave. and at 3933 Katz Dr.

With the new station, the department will have space to add to its staff, Krebill said.

The department is training additional firefighters, with the hopes they will be ready to staff the new station once it opens.

Construction of the third station should start early next year, city officials said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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