With an ax in hand, a Roseville firefighter chopped through a section of wooden floor. Two other firefighters scaled the side of the building. Meanwhile, another was hoisted up with the help of his comrades through a hole in a ceiling by a rope pulley.
This wasn't the scene of a massive fire. It was just practice — all done without leaving the fire station.
Roseville's $9 million fire station — which replaces three outdated and, in two cases, moldy buildings — is a state-of-the-art facility built to maximize on-site training opportunities so firefighters can practice numerous emergency scenarios. Officials said the station is one of the most advanced fire training stations in the country.
The city will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday.
There had been some concern about what effect consolidating the city's three fire stations into the central location would have on response times, said Fire Chief Tim O'Neill. But the location and updated design have actually been shown to improve that statistic. And having one building, designed with many energy-saving features, reduces maintenance costs.
"I think the community is happy that we've got all of our fire stations consolidated in one location," O'Neill said. "That turned out to be a huge selling point."
The new 35,000-square-foot station, built on the site of former Fire Station No. 1, is near City Hall and the Police Department on Lexington Avenue N. at City Centre Drive. In March 2011, a committee formed to research fire operations had recommended that the city's three stations be consolidated.
Later in 2011, the city used port authority powers to issue the bonds to build the new station, and Fire Station No. 1 was razed. Construction of the new station began last October. As Stations No. 2 and No. 3 were decommissioned at the beginning of this month, the new fire station was opened.
"In the history of the Roseville Fire Department, this is the only fire station our taxpayers have ever had to pay for," O'Neill said.
Station No. 1 was donated in the 1940s when it was still Rose Township (named not for the flower, but for pioneer Isaac Rose); Station No. 2 was paid for with funds from the city's sale of its municipal liquor store; and Station No. 3 was built with a federal grant.
The new station, designed to last at least 50 years, boasts many features so that firefighters can train on-site and stay at the station in case there's a call, said Greg Peterson, deputy fire chief. That includes towers that allow firefighters to practice rappelling and laying hose lines from standpipes, as well as ladder truck and balcony training. At an exterior plaza, firefighters can practice extricating victims from damaged vehicles.
The training mezzanine part of the building gives firefighters a chance to practice rescues through a simulated confined space — an opening in the floor as well as different types of windows.
The design of the station is environmentally friendly. A geothermal system collects heat from the Roseville Skating Center's nearby ice skating oval and pipes it to the building, for example, saving energy and thousands of dollars.
The building also has comfortable features for firefighters who stay at the station, including a large modern kitchen, a great room with a multimedia center and a 975-square-foot patio with a grill.