LillieNews: Council approves plans for Mendota Heights fire station renovation

The Mendota Heights City Council adopted plans and specifications for renovating the city’s existing fire station on Jan. 15.The council unanimously passed plans and specifications, as well as an order to seek bids on the work, which is estimated to cost $7 million. The station is located at 2121 Dodd Road. Council member Ultan Duggan was absent.The construction management company will open bids on Feb. 20 before bringing them back to the council on March 5.Mendota Heights Fire Chief Dave Dreelan said that night’s meeting marked another milestone in the more than three-year process to design and develop specifications for renovating and adding to the station.Since August 2018, committee members have spent roughly 300 hours on developing the initial design concepts into documents and drawing, which can be used for the formal bidding process.

“I will certainly say it’s been very challenging, but extremely educational and very rewarding,” Dreelan said.

Construction is tentatively set to begin April 9.

Decontamination, in-house training

Quinn Hutson, principal architect with CNH Architects, the firm that helped design the updates, said in an interview that one of the needs to be addressed in expanding the fire station was the need for space. He said firefighting equipment has just been getting bigger over time.

Two other important needs revolved around improving firefighter safety. One of those needs was toxin and carcinogen removal and separation. While this applies out on the fire scene, firefighters bring a lot of toxins back on their equipment, and they needed a place for decontamination.

“There’s a lot of studies and best practices now for separating those toxins from the spaces occupied by firefighters and proving better methods of cleaning that, and removing it from the building,” Hutson said.

The other need was for in-station training features — windows and balconies will be built to be used for practicing techniques.

The 14,000-square-foot addition, which is slightly more than double the original footprint, will include a 41-foot tower on the front of the station that can be used for ladder truck drills and repelling. Its inside design will mimic an apartment building’s stairwell setup, allowing for stair training.

“If there’s a call that comes in, [firefighters are at the station] and ready to go, where previously if they’re off doing training, they’re maybe out of the city,” Hutson said.

There will also be space for ambulance services to have their own area to be ready for calls. Offices will be expanded and a training room, which can also be used as an emergency operation center, will be added.

Another addition are dorm rooms, which will allow firefighters to remain on site and prepositioned if there is a chance of big storms or tornados.

Hutson said the plans were designed so that the additions will occur mostly on one end of the building so that it can stay operational during construction.

The aims of the remodel and expansion are to provide a facility that can last the fire department into the next 50 years, he said.

–Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or

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