Open house slated April 28 for MFPD’s new No. 3 Firehouse

MFPD firehouse constructed without bond issue, tax hike

By Mike Anthony

An open house for the Mehlville Fire Protection District’s new No. 3 Firehouse at 4811 S. Lindbergh Blvd. is set for Saturday, April 28.

The open house for the new firehouse will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to Chief Brian Hendricks.

District firefighters moved into the new 8,000-square-foot, three-bay structure on April 12, Hendricks told the Call.

The new firehouse replaces the former No. 3 Firehouse at 11625 Sappington Barracks Road, about 1,000 feet to the west. The old firehouse was built in 1957, and district officials have said the size of today’s fire apparatus and other factors have made the structure obsolete.

“… We outgrew it,” Hendricks said of the old firehouse.

The new firehouse is similar in design to the district’s No. 2 and No. 4 firehouses, but also includes a training tower and a walkout basement.

The No. 2 Firehouse at 5434 Telegraph Road was completed in 2009 and the No. 4 Firehouse at 13117 Tesson Ferry Road was finished early last year.

The four-story training tower will provide increased opportunities to enhance the fire district’s training programs, according to Hendricks.

“… This (new firehouse) is going to give us the ability to enhance our training division as well as modernize the infrastructure of the district for the next 40 years,” he said. “I mean, that’s a great testament to the commitment that our board’s had to focus on the infrastructure of the district. Those are tough decisions to make, but we were able to do it with no tax increase, no bond issue.

“This is our third new engine house. It’s terrific. It’s a 50-year commitment,” Hendricks added.

The Board of Directors continues to focus on fiscal responsibility while ensuring the district provides excellent service, he said.

“The model that we’ve used and that the board has used is, obviously, first and foremost, to be fiscally responsible to the taxpayer and deliver top-notch service, and also deliver a good pay and benefits package to the employees,” he said. “And I think that’s their focus, and they certainly have followed through now for the third time with this engine house.”

Assistant Chief Dan LaFata, who is responsible for the district’s training, said the new firehouse, with its training tower, will provide “limitless” opportunities to enhance training.

“It’s four stories tall, so we can do a roughly 50-foot indoor repel. It really eliminates weather being a factor of how much training we do for that particular day …,” he said.

The new firehouse also includes a basement underneath the living quarters, and LaFata said a self-contained breathing apparatus confidence course will be constructed in that area for training.

“We’ll be able to train on that for the foreseeable future … It’s going to be modifiable, so it can be changed as often as it needs to be to make it new and fresh,” he said. “So with the extra training space, it really does not limit (us). In other words, 100 degrees or 2 degrees, we can conduct some sort of practical training session, regardless of the weather …”

Hendricks said the new firehouse also will allow the district to enhance its responses to emergency calls.

“The nice thing about this third bay is it’s going to give us the ability to enhance our responses,” he said. “You know, we have in the Mehlville district a technical rescue support trailer, our trench rescue trailer. We’ve got our mass casualty trailer. We’ve got a hazmat trailer. We’ve got our boats.

“We now can look at strategically placing our assets (throughout the district) because we have the extra space … We are going to look at our rescue assets as a whole, and we’re going to start strategically placing them. For instance, we very well might consider moving the boats to 4 house instead of (No. 5 house). We might put the mass casualty trailer at 3 house. We might put the trench trailer at 2 house.”

The district’s boats currently are at the No. 5 Firehouse and the district’s trailers are at the No. 7 Firehouse, the chief said.

“So we’re going to look at overall where we have all of our support assets and it gives us the ability to place those assets a little more strategically, which is a good thing now that we have the extra space. We could never do that before at our old 3 house because it was so small. There was no space.”

With the completion of the No. 3 Firehouse, the district’s infrastructure is in excellent condition, Hendricks said.

“For right now, I see us out of the construction business for a while. In the short-term planning, I don’t see any engine houses in the near future,” he said. “That’s not to say that there won’t be some renovations to our current engine houses. Our house 6 and 7 would be our oldest houses, but the nice thing about those two pieces of property is that we can expand, if necessary, or we can renovate …

“I’m as happy as can be with the shape we’re in, engine-housewise,” he said.

The J.E. Foster Building Co. was the contractor for the No. 3 Firehouse, which cost roughly $2.4 million.