Sept. 25, 2006

Dassel council buys house for fire dept. space

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Dassel City Council decided last Monday to buy the house that is next door to the fire hall for the Dassel Fire Department.

At the same time, the fire department will make an agreement for “first right of refusal” with the Masons for the Mason building, also next door to the hall.

“The hall is maxed out with what we can put in it,” said Dassel Fire Chief Dale Grochow to the council at its regular meeting. The current fire hall is at 426 Second St. The truck bay was built in about 1970, and the meeting area was built in about 1983.

The fire department can’t expand the hall because it is landlocked. It has 12-foot doors and is capable of holding trucks with 45-foot long ground ladders, so the truck bay size is adequate for now, Grochow said.

The hall also is centrally located, he added.

What the fire department needs the most, though, is fast access to parking space for firefighters responding to emergencies. The department currently has 24 members with the potential to have 32. An average 15 vehicles are driven to the fire hall to respond to emergencies; more if the emergency is in the evening, Grochow said.

Even though property owners around the hall have been inconvenienced, they have been cooperative in letting firefighters park on their properties. Response time is important, however, said Council Member Brad Lalim at the Sept. 5 council meeting.

Purchasing the green house will give firefighters at least 10 angle parking spaces in the rear lot, Grochow said.

Grochow believes the fire department has the revenues to cover the approximately $115,000 cost of the house on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and First Street. The house is owned by Sherrie Heffernan of the Twin Cities.

The fire department’s next major purchase will probably be a pumper truck. Instead of buying the truck out right, though, the department could pay $40,000 to $50,000 a year on it, Grochow said.

The Mason building is not on the market now, but if it ever becomes available, the fire department needs it also. The department is forced to go south for land, Grochow said.

The land, other than for parking from the green house, and the Mason building, could be used for an apparatus bay, he said.

McGrath agreed that adding the two properties will make the fire hall property two to three times bigger than what is there now.

Council Member Bob Wilde suggested getting an agreement of a first right of refusal for the Mason building or an equivalent agreement. If the fire department loses this opportunity, there might not be another for 20 to 30 years, he said.

McGrath said the green house is in good condition. While waiting for the Mason property to become available, the fire department can find a property manager to be responsible for renting out the green house for a portion of the rent. The tenant can use the driveway that leads to Atlantic Avenue. The rear of the lot can be used for parking for firefighters.

Council Member Al Dunn agreed the fire department needs to “prepare for growing pains and Dassel is growing,” he said.

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