Merrill leaders discuss plans to update fire station - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Merrill leaders discuss plans to update fire station


MERRILL (WAOW)-- Merrill leaders got a look at plans for a new fire station Tuesday night. Designers from Becher Hoppe proposed three different options.

Fire Chief Bob Odegard has worked as a Merrill firefighter for 32 years. "Because of the age of these stations, something needs to be done," he told Newsline 9.

Odegard said firefighters will always work to keep people safe no matter the conditions, but he said upgrading the city's main fire station, or building a brand new one, would make life easer.

"We are maintaining, but certainly it's going to have to get looked at sooner or later because of how dated a lot of the things are here."

Designers presented three plans to city leaders and community members. The first plan would save a 100-year-old portion of the station located on East 1st street and renovate the rest. The second would demolish the main station and construct a new building on the same site, while the third plan outlines a brand new, larger fire station located somewhere else in the city.

All of the plans include closing Merrill Fire Station 2, located on the city's west side.

"If they get a call, whether it's day or night, they need to be able to get to the equipment in a very quick, fashionable manner," said Becher Hoppe Architectural Intern Melody Hamlin.

Firefighters said all of the plans would be an improvement, but response times to the city's west side could suffer if the station there is closed. "Our goal of course is always to provide the best care we can for the people and retain the safe and efficient responses to their emergencies," said Odegard.

But some city officials argue that having one central station would actually increase response time, by making coordinating emergency crews easier. Prices for the projects range from around 3.5 million dollars, to 7 million for a brand new station. City leaders said voters will have the final say.

"It's their safety that we're concerned about and it's also their dollars so we're going to try to mesh the two together and come up with a good plan going into the future," said Merrill Mayor Bill Bialecki.

City leaders plan to meet again to discuss the proposals.

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton


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