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Minn. FD breaks ground on new fire station to host city’s first electric fire truck

St. Paul’s new Station 7 will house five vehicles including the city and state’s first electric fire engine

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St. Paul Fire Department/Facebook

By Mara H. Gottfried
Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Heavy rain Friday morning didn’t postpone the ceremonial groundbreaking for a new fire station in St. Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff — officials said there had already been a long enough wait for the project to get started.

The new fire Station 7 will be across the street from the 92-year-old station on Ross Avenue between Earl and East Seventh streets.

The project has a $10.7 million budget. It was originally expected to be about $9 million when the city funded it in 2019.

“Then COVID came along … (and) supply chain issues came along,” said Fire Chief Butch Inks. “Apparently it takes six to eight months to get a window sometimes and then that window has tripled in price.”

The land for the new station is currently a vacant lot, which previously was home to the Viaduct Inn, a bar and restaurant. The St. Port Authority sold the 0.67 acre lot to the city of St. Paul for $233,482.

The current Station 7 has three bays for fire department vehicles, which the fire department said was increasingly inadequate for serving the community’s needs. Station 7 previously housed a fire engine and ladder truck, but moving an ambulance to the station in 2018 meant the engine had to relocate to a different station.

The new Station 7 will have space for five fire department vehicles, and it’s expected to be home to the city and state’s first electric fire truck.

The station will allow for expanded service to the East Side, said Mayor Melvin Carter.

“This is the part of our city that has the most wood-frame homes and this is the part of our city that has incredible density, lots of families, lots of young families, who absolutely deserve the type of first-rate fire services that our fire department … provides every single day,” Carter said.

Ensuring that firefighters, who also provide emergency medical services in St. Paul, have the facility and equipment they need to respond “is absolutely critical for the life-saving service,” Carter said. It also will mean faster response times, Inks said.

The Heights development at the old Hillcrest Country Club “is not going to be that far away, so the planned development and population growth that we expect to see will only bring in more calls for service,” said Deputy Fire Chief Roy Mokosso.

Construction is expected to be completed on the new fire station in late 2024 or early 2025, said Jill LaCasse, fire department administration manager. The city hasn’t decided what they’ll do with the old fire station, she said.

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With shovels from left to right, Capt. Eric Clinton, fire department administration manager Jill LaCasse, Assistant Fire Chief Mike Gaede, Assistant Fire Chief Jeramiah Melquist and Fire Chief Butch Inks. Across the street behind them is Fire Station 7, which will remain in use until the new station is complete.

Mara H. Gottfried

St. Paul firefighters work 24-hour shifts and the new station will have 15 dorm rooms. It also will include separate spaces for decontamination and storage of firefighter turnout gear. Firefighters have increased cancer risks because of dangerous chemicals that they and their gear are exposed to during fires.

The station will be the first new one in St. Paul in 13 years. The last new construction was Fire Station 1 and fire department headquarters at West Seventh Street and Randolph Avenue.

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