Highland News Leader

Highland-Pierron Fire Department building new firehouse

Take a look inside Highland Fire Station No. 1

Highland EMS Chief Brian Wilson speaks briefly about some of the needs of the Highland Fire and EMS Departments and gives an inside look at Highland Fire Station No. 1 located at 1115 Broadway.
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Highland EMS Chief Brian Wilson speaks briefly about some of the needs of the Highland Fire and EMS Departments and gives an inside look at Highland Fire Station No. 1 located at 1115 Broadway.

The Highland-Pierron Fire Department will have a new home soon.

With the goal of late August of this year, the department hopes to be moved into a new station at the corner of Broadway and Iberg Road in Highland.

Department chief Steve Plocher is excited about the new facility, which will be nearly 10,000 square feet.

“The old facility was built in 1983, so we’ve just kind of outgrown that,” said Plocher, who has been chief 20 years. “With the city putting in the bypass at Veterans Honors Parkway, the new location became an ideal spot to get access to the wider part of the district we cover in a faster manner. Moreover, we decided to upgrade and get a little more room and be in a better location.

“Trucks keep getting bigger … we had growing pains. We needed to expand a little.”

The new facility, Plocher noted, will have a more vast training and meeting room area, which can accommodate larger groups for regional training events.

Plocher also said the new facility will provide a safety feature, specifically regarding backing up. The larger drive-thru bays will reduce or eliminate accidents when backing apparatus.

“We will be able to pull a truck in and out without having to back up. That’s a safety aspect,” Plocher said. “We’ve got larger doors and more room to work on things in the middle. With the newer trucks, had to pull them outside to work on them. This facility can do repairs inside.”

According to a press release issued by the department, an additional safety feature is the new facility will have a room to incorporate enhanced gear cleaning equipment to help reduce cancer risks, following the latest initiatives to acknowledge the research that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnosis and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general population in the United States, as published by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“It’s a good upgrade. I think everybody will be excited once then get in there and see the differences,” Plocher said.

To help ensure efficient response to such a widespread and rural area, the press release noted, Highland-Pierron Fire Department has a station located along Illinois 143 in Pierron and a second station within the City of Highland on Woodcrest Drive.

Five years ago, the Highland-Pierron Fire Protection District Board of Trustees purchased the parcel of ground at the southeast corner of Broadway and Iberg Road where the new firehouse is being erected, and began saving the funds that would be necessary to finance the project, the press release stated.

As noted in the press release, with more than half the projected cost already saved, there was no need for a bond issue and the loan payoff is expected to be made within five years. Once the station is complete, the current firehouse on Woodcrest Drive will be vacated and the four apparatus and meeting quarters will be moved to the new facility.

“We’re building this station with no tax increases or bonds being spent. It’s taxpayer friendly. It’s a big expense, but a long term expense,” Plocher said.

The firehouse located in the Village of Pierron is home to an additional four apparatus as well as meeting quarters, and its status will remain unchanged with the new station, the press release stated.

An open house will be planned for the new facility to welcome the public once the building phases are complete, the press release stated.