KANDIYOHI -- For nearly 60 years the Kandiyohi Fire Department has been housed in a run-down shell of a building that was built a century ago and had been used as a bank in the past.
The volunteer department has spent the past 20 years trying to muster enough support to build a new facility to provide adequate space for the equipment and crew. On Tuesday, the community came together to do just that.
With fire trucks parked outside on the site where the new fire hall will be built on County Road 8, firefighters served a hotdog picnic to residents from the city of Kandiyohi and Fahlun, Green Lake and Kandiyohi townships to celebrate the official ground-breaking of a new building.
"We've waited a long time for this," said Mayor Craig Aurand to the crowd. "It was a group effort."
Construction is expected to begin this week and should be finished sometime in November.
The new building will last the community "for many, many years," Aurand said.
At $800,000, the 90-by-125-foot metal structure is affordable and will meet the needs of the department, Fire Chief Jamie Swanson said. "We did not go overboard on it."
The new hall will include six bays for apparatus, including one drive-through bay, a separate training room, small kitchen, office, shower, a separate mechanical room and a loft over half of the room that will provide extra storage space or possibly a location for exercise equipment.
A long entrance apron to the building will allow trucks to pull out of the fire hall without being in the traffic lane on County Road 8, which is the situation with the current hall that sets just a few feet from the curb.
Once the new hall is complete, the old fire hall -- just 30 feet away -- will be demolished to create a parking lot for firefighters.
Plans to build a new hall have been in the works for years because the current fire hall was never built to be a fire hall.
"It was revamped to fit the trucks," Swanson said. "It has very tight quarters."
There are just three feet of space between the equipment and open lockers where the crew keeps their turnout gear and one of the department's six trucks is parked in the city garage, said Swanson.
Aurand said the finances lined up to make the timing right to move ahead with the project now.
The fire service contract was approved Monday by all the participating entities served by the department, which gave the final financial go-ahead for the project.
"Everyone was for it," Swanson said. "It's good to see the townships and town work together."
Over the last three years the city invested $200,000 to acquire and remove three old buildings where the new fire hall will be built, and to make soil corrections to the site. Those expenses are not included in the $800,000 construction price.
The city is also contributing another $50,000 to the project, Aurand said.
The fire department has about $170,000 in its building fund that will be tapped, and a $625,000 bond payment for the project will be paid over 15 years with revenue generated primarily from the service fees.
Swanson said the new building will be an attractive addition to Kandiyohi and will be a "morale builder for the department." He also hopes it will also serve as a recruiting tool to get more volunteers for the department.
There are 20 people currently on the crew. "We're always looking for more," he said.
Aurand said the project shows community support for the "dedicated firefighters that take this job seriously."
The project attracted nine contractors. Everstrong Construction Inc. of Redwood Falls got the low bid and was selected as the general contractor.