By Vinde Wells
Polo firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel are moving into a long-awaited and much-needed addition to their facilities.
Fire Chief Tony Karrow said Monday that the finishing touches are being made to an addition that connects the fire station and ambulance building and provides a training room and storage area.
“This was room we really needed,” Karrow said as he looked around the 20 foot by 48 foot addition.
The project also included some redecorating and new appliances for the fire station’s existing kitchen.
“We got to use our new kitchen at our breakfast,” Karrow said, referring to the pancake breakfast held April 13.
The training room will be used for classes for both firefighters and EMS.
“It will allow us to have state-certification classes. It will increase our training capabilities,” Karrow said.
Besides tables and chairs for 40, the training room will have audio-video equipment with a screen at the front and large flat-screen TV at the back, allowing both the participants and the instructor to view PowerPoints or other presentations.
Karrow said state-certification classes require the audio-video capabilities.
Fire district treasurer Charlie Clothier said the existing fire station was built in the 1950s when all training was done in the field. It offered no classroom space that could meet the state requirements, he said.
The room can also be used as an emergency operations center in case of a disaster in the city.
An area behind the new training room has space to house an all-terrain vehicle owned by MABAS 18, and will eventually have shelving for additional storage.
Part of the funding for the addition came from a state grant applied for more than a decade ago.
“If it wasn’t for the grant money we probably couldn’t have done it,” Clothier said.
Clothier said he applied for the $50,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development in 2001.
It was finally awarded in 2011.
“I forgot about it. I didn’t think we got it,” Karrow said.
Money for the tables and chairs came from donations from the Polo Lions Club, Ebert Engineering, Lenny Bryson, the Francis Vock family, Birkeys Farm Store, and the Polo American Legion Post.
Fire department fundraisers paid for other furnishings, and firefighters pitched for some of the finishing work such as painting.
The new kitchen appliances were paid for by memorial money received from the family of the late Larry Wagner, a longtime Polo firefighter.