ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- We all know when there's an emergency, every second counts, and the Rockford Fire Department says people living on the south side will see quicker response times once one of the city's busiest fire stations relocates.
Fire Station #3 was built in 1954 but starting in 2015, the fire house will no longer be a fixture on South Main Street. Once an extra lane is added to Rt. 2, the station will lose 12 feet of its driveway. According to Fire Chief Derek Bergsten, that won't leave enough room for the fire engine to safely leave the bay for mandatory daily checks. He adds the station is cramped; the rescue boat, ambulance and engine leave little space for more equipment. The plan is to build a larger station on Marchesano Drive; it’s less than a mile from the old station. The new building will cost the city around 4 million dollars.
“Any time you upgrade the neighborhood with some new buildings and newer equipment and that kind of thing, everyone can be proud of it and it brings the whole neighborhood up,” says Lt. Daniel Larson, a veteran at Fire Station #3. “I think the neighborhood will be proud to have a new station, and when we move over to our newer area, we'll be able to get to the south east part of the city a lot quicker and the response times will go down."
The construction on South Main Street will be timed so fire crews are out of the old building before the lanes are widened. Crews expect to move into the new fire house in February 2015.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is in charge of the South Main project; the state did pay for the land they're taking away from the station, but not for the entire property. The fire department is currently looking for other ways to re-purpose the building.