How the new Sauble, Elk, Eden fire station is making progress

Fire official: 'It is unbelievable we can get this and it was by a donation'

ELK TWP.  —  In a rural area of northwestern Lake County, those who drive along Eight Mile Road may notice a new and large fire station coming together. The structure is not only impressive but aims to fill a great need in the area. 

Since May 1, 2021, during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Sauble Elk and Eden Fire Department, at 6711 W. Eight Mile Road, people could view a stretch of field where the new station was to be built. Now, about 10 months later, people can see how the plans have transpired. 

Gary Nugent is the Sauble Elk and Eden Fire Department Board chair and joint building authority chair from of Sauble Township. Nugent along with Elk Township supervisor Lou Fitz gave the Star a tour of the progress.

Kendra Thompson, of Manistee, is the architect who designed the station. Gerber Construction, of Reed City, is the contractor. 

The department has had two fire stations for years with one near Big Bass Lake and the other in downtown Irons. 

"This will bring everything together into one location," Nugent said. "Being in Lake County, with all the lakes, rivers and recreation — we don't have equipment for the woods. With the new station, there will be room for side-by-sides, quads and boats for the rivers or lakes. These are on the wish list. All the equipment can be in one central location." 

He said that thee had been studies conducted on fire runs in the last three years in the three townships that show "this was almost dead on for a central location."

Sauble, Elk and Eden Fire Department Fire Board Chair and Joint Building Authority Chair Gary Nugent shows where some of the front offices will be located.

Sauble, Elk and Eden Fire Department Fire Board Chair and Joint Building Authority Chair Gary Nugent shows where some of the front offices will be located.

Star photo/Shanna Avery

"We got this 5 acres when the widow of Joe Charnes, Judy West Charnes, donated it on behalf of her deceased husband. Joe Offered to help in any way he could before he passed,"Nugent said. "It is unbelievable we can get this, and it was by a donation."

The double five-bay will be able to store 10 apparatus and there will be no need for trucks to back up. They can completely drive through during fires, fill up and drive out, he said.

Nugent explained that when fire trucks are required to back up, it causes dangerous situations. 

One of the features is an 8-inch well with a tanker-fill station for firefighters to fill up. There's also an ice-melting system, which brings a flow of hot water through pipes to melt the ice in the bay entrance so trucks and equipment can be maneuvered more quickly in winter. 

Firefighter training is also prioritized with the new fire station. Most of the training can be accommodated right inside the building, Nugent explained, and will have the necessary technology, such as audio and speakers. The training center is expected to be the biggest in the county. 

Firefighters will each have their own locker rooms for men and women. 

"With the locker room, firefighters will be able to shower and change after a fire," Fitz said. "There also is a wash sink, where firefighters can come right in and shower off their gear, and also a special washer and dryer, so if a toxic material gets on the gear, there is a separation of oils which will go into a holding tank to be taken away as hazardous material instead of going into the septic system.

Nugent pointed to a coffee room where snacks can be stored and coffee can be made, so the department's support committee, which Fitz also serves on, won't have to get supplies from multiple locations when there is a fire run.

"After this station is built, everyone will just come here to load up the food and drinks and go to the scene," Fitz said. 

After fires, there will be a day room where firefighters can relax and watch TV after a fire. The room also is planned to include chairs and a kitchen.  

Other features include a tool room, a workshop area, a room for computer wiring, and a fireproof and tornadoproof security room with a vault for files, critical records, documents and incident reports. 

Toward the front of the building, an office for the secretary as well as an office for department fire Chief Greg Bombich is being designed, as well as a spacious main lobby.

"The main lobby will be good for groups of visitors, such as Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and schools. This will get them in there," Fitz said. "The station will be a cornerstone of the community and will be looked at thousands of times." 

With the 5-acre parcel, there is extra room outdoors so when firefighters come to pump water, it won't interfere with anything else, Nugent said. There also is a large generator in case the station loses power, which will heat the building and operate doors and lights. 

The tentative completion date is set for June 1, Nugent said. There were some delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We are just thrilled," he said.