MEEKER I The Meeker Fire Department will soon be tearing down a portion of the building next door to the fire station to make room for a new addition that will better meet the needs of the Rio Blanco Fire Protection District.
Fire Board member Doug Overton contacted the Herald Times for the purpose of making the community aware of what was happening.
“We were looking for a way to expand the fire department because we needed more room,” Overton said. “There were a lot of options outside of town, even up near the hospital, but that just didn’t make sense. The location of the fire department right now is ideal, so when that building next door came up for sale, we bought it.”
This property, located on the southeast corner of Main and Seventh streets, “has had quite the history,” according to Sam Thiessen at the Rio Blanco County Abstract office. It was a filling station as early as 1930 and later a car dealership—initially the Joy Motor Co.—and remained such into the 1980s.
Don and Janet Carroll bought the property in 1984 to house Carroll Plumbing. After a fire destroyed part of the cinder block and wood building, the present steel portion of the building was built. That portion will actually be retained in the new project.
The building was then sold to Jay Purkey and Cindy Gaugh in 1986 and then to Bill and Erma Rucker in 1995 to house Rocky Mountain Bow Strings. The fire district bought the property in 2012 and has been utilizing it since.
The new structure, which will include redoing only the front portion of the building—it is “outdated and has a lot of problems,” Overton said, will house offices and a board room. This will make space in the old fire house for a larger training room as well as serve as a place for out-of-town personnel to stay while they are on call.
The time frame for the completion of the new steel and block building is the end of next summer.
“We are currently behind from our original plan, but we finally awarded the bid to tear the (existing portion of the) building down,” Overton said. “Our plan is to tear (the front portion) down, put it back in gravel for the winter and start fresh in the spring with the new construction.”
Overton also added that the asbestos inspection was just completed and 33 samples were sent off for testing.
He was hopeful that no abatement will be necessary. Such abatement typically involves hiring a separate contractor to come in and pack the hazardous material in containers before removing it from the site. Such abatement would push the completion date further out. If no abatement is needed, however, the building could be demolished as soon as the end of this month or early September.
Funds for the project will come from the existing surplus in the fire district. The total cost is estimated at $1 million, which is far less than it would have been if construction were elsewhere, Overton said.
“We feel like we are being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money because we didn’t go out and build a $6 million or $7 million firehouse somewhere that didn’t make sense for our response (time),” Overton said. “Because the existing buildings are central in town, we can get to where we’re going fast.”