Pike Township Fire Department and Trustee Annette Johnson held a groundbreaking on October 17, 2022, for a new and innovative decontamination and maintenance facility.
The 11,500-square foot facility is designed to provide efficient, effective gear cleaning, which will help reduce firefighters’ long-term exposure to carcinogens. In addition to four gear extractors and three RamAir dryers, the facility boasts two Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus cleaners, as well as a firefighter personal decontamination area, designed to allow firefighters to remove toxic carcinogens from their skin as quickly as possible after fighting a fire.
Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general US population, according to the nonprofit Firefighter Cancer Support Network.
4,900-square-feet of the project is dedicated to three vehicle maintenance bays, improving the safety and work environment of the support services staff.
This new facility incorporates daylighting throughout the entire building, decreasing the need for artificial lighting while promoting a healthy work environment. Increased insulation will reduce heating and cooling costs, resulting in a more sustainable building.
Built in the 1980s, the original maintenance facility was not designed for today’s fire service needs, according to Pike Township Fire Chief Chris E. Tragesser. “The size and complexity of modern fire apparatus has surpassed the ability for Pike Fire to properly service equipment,” he said. “The previous gear washing area was competing for space in the maintenance building.” The new facility will be separated into two distinct spaces – the maintenance area and the gear washing/decontamination area.
“My primary responsibility is the safety and welfare of our firefighters,” continued Chief Tragesser. “As the threat of cancer grows, we must address the carcinogens that firefighters come in contact with. This new facility will enable us to better decontaminate gear and equipment.”
“We knew this was going to be an innovative project from the start. I enjoyed the willingness of Pike Fire Department and Etica Group’s design team to share ideas and discover the solution to this important issue,” said Toby Winiger, Director of Architecture at Etica Group. “Knowing that this facility was going to improve lives of our public servants, makes this project stand out in our community.”
Pike Township is located in the northwest corner of Indianapolis, with more than 88,000 residents within 44-square miles. The nearly 200 firefighters, EMS personnel and civilian staff in the Pike Township Fire Department provide an array of support to the community, including:
- Fire and emergency medical response, including advanced life support first response and transport
- Fire investigation, inspection and plan review
- Public education through targeted community risk reduction
- Project Lifesaver search and rescue
- Surface water, ice and boat rescue
- Heavy extrication response
In 2021, Pike Fire responded to more than 15,000 incidents.
The construction project is anticipated to be operational in June 2023.