Vacant Jackson fire station has reopened, but improvements are needed, officials say

JACKSON, MI – The Jackson Fire Department has officially reopened a shuttered city fire station, but officials said some improvements are needed to the building.

Fire Station No. 2, 1906 S. Milwaukee St., reopened Sunday, Jan. 9, with staff, one fire engine and the hope of increasing safety on that side of the city, Jackson Police and Fire Services Director Elmer Hitt said. Station No. 2 has been vacant since 2011, with the city only being served by Station No. 1 at 518 N. Jackson St.

“I am super excited to see Fire Station No. 2 reactivated,” Jackson Mayor Daniel Mahoney said during the Tuesday, Jan. 11 Jackson City Council meeting, echoing the council’s support for reopening the station.

Jackson needs a fire station on its south side, Hitt said, adding he believes it will help the city increase safety by being able to respond to calls faster.

“It brings something back to that neighborhood,” Hitt said.

While the building is in fair enough condition to reopen, some improvements are needed for long-term sustainability and quality housing for fire department employees, Hitt said. During its meeting on Tuesday, the city council approved allocating $40,500 of its federal American Rescue Plan Act COVID-19 relief funds for building designs.

The city has hired Jackson-based firm Covalle Group Architects to provide building designs, plans and site improvement recommendations. The group will also provide additional services, like bidding assistance, Hitt said in a memo to city council.

Upgrades to the 4,000-square-foot building Hitt has identified include new ceilings with lighting, a new roof and new HVAC system. Additionally, the garage bay doors must be raised in height to be accessible for all types of vehicles, a women’s locker room needs to be added and the parking lot needs work, Hitt said.

“When firefighters are at work, they live there for the day,” Hitt said. “They could be there at times for two to three days.”

Construction costs will need to be approved by city council at a later date.

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