Residents invited to new fire station

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Dennis Hines | June 1, 2016

JANESVILLE--Some members of the Janesville Fire Department are getting settled in at their new quarters.

After about a year of construction, the new central fire station is now operational at 303 Milton Ave.

The new station is located next to the previous station, which was built in 1957. The department had been planning for a new central station because of space needs and an increase in calls during the past several years.

Deputy Chief James Ponkauskas said the department began moving into the new station about a month ago.

“We moved over all the chief and administration staff just to make sure all the computer systems were going to work and the phone systems were going to work,” Ponkauskas said. “About two weeks later, the crew started to move over.

“There's a lot of equipment that had to be moved out of the old station into the new station before we could go into operations, so we we're just getting our stuff settled in.”

The station is staffed by eight administration employees and six to eight operation workers. The 31,500-square-foot facility features a central administration area, conference room and training area. The station also includes separate dorm facilities and gender-friendly restrooms, as well as a larger apparatus bay for equipment and vehicles.

With the new station, the department is able to store its reserve equipment at one location.

“In the past, we had our reserve equipment at different locations throughout the city,” Ponkauskas said. “Now everything will be housed here.

“When we have a bigger incident ... we don't have to go to a facility in a different part of the city. It will make our operations flow a lot better.”

Fire Chief Randy Banker said the new station will allow the department to operate more efficiently.

“It's a healthier, more effective place for all of us. We have the ability to be in our offices to do work in privacy. It makes it more efficient,” Banker said. “It not only benefits us, but the city that we're serving.”

Operating from the new station also will help improve response times, Ponkauskas said.

“When we were at our old facility, depending on what type of call we were going out on, sometimes we had to move one piece of equipment out of the way to get another piece of equipment out to respond to a call,” he said. “Now we're set up where you can take off to wherever you're being dispatched to.”

Ponkauskas said the new station has received a positive response from the community.

“For people who have had a chance to go through, it's been very positive comments on the facility and how things are set up,” he said.

The fire department will host a dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. Thursday, June 2. The ceremony will include a blessing of the building and vehicles, guest speakers, recognition for the “line-of-duty” desk employees and recognition for the residents who sold their properties to allow the fire station to be built.

“There were 12 residents (who sold their property),” Ponkauskas said. “A couple of them were relocated. Others purchased property in other areas of the city ... “

Refreshments and guided tours of the new fire station will be offered after the ceremony.

Now that the new station has been completed, the former station is set to be demolished in the near future.

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