City fire station renovation fosters at-home atmosphere

Shelly Banjo

To Captain Bob Hayden of the Evanston Fire and Life Safety Department, Fire Station No. 3 is where he calls home. Now, thanks to the city, Hayden’s home has been remodeled.

“These facilities really do make the job easier, and we are very happy,” Hayden said. “We spend 24 hours a day here, and it’s nice to have a place to relax.”

Mayor Lorraine H. Morton cut a bright red ribbon Friday afternoon at an open house to mark the official opening of the new Fire Station No. 3, 1105 Central St. The open house allowed officials and residents to hear remarks from firefighters, enjoy a piece of cake frosted with a picture of the new station and tour the facility.

Ald. Elizabeth Tisdahl (7th), Acting Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky and State Rep. Julie Hamos, D-Evanston, also attended.

“They did a beautiful job, and I’m very impressed,” said Evanston resident Wally Delise, 61. “I saw the last fire station, and it came nowhere near this one — they did a great job.”

The new station was built by Evanston-based architects Yas/Fischel Partnership, along with the city’s facilities management team and the fire department.

Tours of the fire station revealed many new features of the facility including an expansive kitchen and living room with comfortable reclining chairs. In addition the firefighters purchased a new television and even brought a fish tank to add to the at-home atmosphere.

Unlike past living quarters, each firefighter now has his or her own room and bed for more privacy and comfort.

“The fire station is more than an office — they live, eat and sleep here,” Berkowsky said. “We looked to establish a high comfort level and safety level. There are sprinklers and smoke detectors, quick access to vehicles so they can be out quickly and have a fast response.”

The facility also boasts a fume-free garage, noise insulation and a longer base that allows for greater storage capacity to hold larger, new equipment.

“We took the old station and rejuvenated it with new life and new technology,” said Albert Thewis, the station’s construction manager. “It is nicer than some hotels I have built.”

Many residents, families and retired firefighters came to the open house to express their appreciation and pride.

“It looks wonderful,” Tisdahl said. “The people in the Seventh Ward are very grateful. We want them to have the best possible facilities because we have the best possible firefighters.”

Morton said the new station showed Evanston’s commitment to safety.

“The citizens of Evanston recognized a need for a new station, and now we have a wonderful facility,” Morton said. “The community should be commended for putting up those dollars to have such a nice new facility.”

However Delise said the cost was insignificant compared with the firefighters’ contributions to Evanston.

“How do you put a price on safety?” he said.