Officials talk future options for Battle Creek Fire Department

Posted at 11:48 PM, Mar 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-21 23:48:14-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – City officials in Battle Creek are starting to hash out future plans for the city's fire department, which could include a multi-million-dollar investment.

Battle Creek’s Fire Chief Dave Schmaltz said the hope is to better serve the needs of the community by building new facilities. Residents were informed at public meeting Monday night on the options the city is considering.

“The city owns six fire stations, and all of them need some sort of modifications or some sort of ability to be brought up to snuff,” Chief Schmaltz said.

In 2014, Kramer & Associates Group and MSA Architects did a $47,000 study of all seven Battle Creek fire stations and found current facilities limit the department's capabilities.

The fire department is now considering three possible options. (See a virtual tour of each facility.)

  • Option 1: Close current Stations 1, 2, and 3, and combine them into one station in the area of Main Street and Dickman Road. Also, close current Stations 4 and 7 and combine them into one station located east of W.K. Kellogg Airport. Refurbish Stations 5 and 6.
  • Option 2: Close the current Station 3 and move that crew to the current Station 1. Build a new Station 2 in the area of that current station. Follow the rest of the scenario in Option 1.
  • Option 3: Close current Stations 1 and 3, combining them into one station in the area of Main Street and Dickman Road. Follow the rest of the scenario in Option 2.

“Everything in my division needs some attention, and it comes down to what the commission thinks is the high priority,” said Chief Schmaltz.

Battle Creek City Manager Rebecca Fleury said the project could exceed $20 million if all recommendations were completed, a cost some firefighters say is a waste of money.

“The new station with the drive-through bay and the washer and dryers are great for us and luxuries for the people who live there, but the taxpayer doesn’t get any benefit from that,” said firefighter Josh Cushman. “We don’t bring that from our station when we come to your house; we bring a fire truck and a bunch of firefighters, and we try to do a good job.”

Chief Schmaltz recognized the need for more personnel, hoping the committee will recognize that need in addition to the multi-million dollar project. “We’re certainly going to have discussion about staffing and other aspects, like apparatus that are old and need to be replaced,” said Chief Schmaltz. “It’s bigger than just buildings.”

The city’s police department also unveiled their plans to replace their facilities in October 2015. Consultants found the police station is long overdue for an update.

City officials said they’re not in a decision-making phase just yet. The commission will take everything into account before deciding in late spring or early summer.