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By Molly Moser

Guttenberg Press


After many delays and unforeseen battles, the Garnavillo Volunteer Fire Department last week broke ground on a new fire station that will replace the old creamery building retrofitted for the fire and EMS departments in 1969. 

In 2013, the Clayton Ridge School District sold the Garnavillo elementary school building, which had been unused since 2007, to the City of Garnavillo for a single dollar. The building was demolished in late 2013. 

“After deciding on the building site, the firemen spent countless hours tearing down the old elementary building, salvaging what they could to either sell or use for scrap metal, and managed to keep over 95% out of the landfill,” said Garnavillo correspondent Nikole Hoeger, who has been covering the story as it unfolds.

In June of this year, Wayne Bacon and Tony Puelz represented the Garnavillo Fire Department at a school board meeting with the request that the board consider giving the City of Garnavillo ten additional feet of school property in order to comply with city ordinance specifications for the building of the new emergency facility.  The board later voted to sell the City a strip of land approximately 10x200 feet along the north line of the parcel previously sold to the City for an additional dollar.

The new building will be more than triple the size of the current location of the fire department, with seven double-deep bays for emergency vehicles. Conditions at the current fire station are both inconvenient and unsafe – six of Garnavillo’s 14 rescue vehicles are housed elsewhere, and fire fighters have less than 20 inches of space in which to put on their gear when they’re called out. According to a report by Garnavillo correspondent Dorothy Wendel, who has also been following the story, truck doors can’t be fully opened and vehicles have grazed fire fighters as they drive out of the building. It costs upward of $1000 to heat the current building each month during the winter, which is necessary to keep the 5000 gallons of water stored in tanker trucks from freezing. It is unlikely that the current fire station itself would pass inspection by the fire marshal. 

In 2014, the Garnavillo Volunteer Fire Department and EMS team responded to 100 calls. The department serves the Garnavillo Township with over 33 square miles, the Clayton Township with over 38 square miles, and the Read Township, with roughly two square miles. Current response time is five to seven minutes, and fire fighters estimate the response time from the new station will be significantly less at two to five minutes. Given the dedication and the need, the Clayton County Foundation for the Future hosts a project fund for the construction of the new facility. 

It has been a long haul, but now construction can begin on the new and improved fire station. The main water line is already in place, sewer work is underway, and a cement crew hopes to start soon.

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