At a special meeting of the Peninsula Township Board last night, the board voted unanimously to approve Grand Traverse Construction as the contractor for Fire Station #3 and move forward with the project at a cost not to exceed $1,040,000.
The new fire station will be located at 19270 Center Road, between Swaney Road and Tompkins Road, on land purchased by the Township from the Switzer family. The station will include housing for fire staff, and will also house the department’s wildfire truck, which will be upgraded to a Medical First Response truck. The department’s boat will also be stored there during the winter months.
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Fred Gilstorff, Fire Chief of the Peninsula Township Fire Department, and Jennifer Hodges, Project Manager with Gourdie-Fraser, attended the meeting and gave a presentation of the project.
Re-Inventing the Fire Department
Since Gilstorff was hired as fire chief in December 2017, he and his team have worked to better the fire department and improve their ISO ratings on a number of fronts, including upgrading the fire trucks and equipment, certifying the department for Advanced Life Support (ALS), improving response times on calls, hiring more staff, ensuring that Fire Stations #1 and #2 are staffed 24/7, placing automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in multiple public places throughout the township, and increasing fire education to township residents.
The Fire Department is also very involved in the Old Mission Peninsula community, leading birthday parades during the pandemic, participating in the annual Old Mission Parade and sled race at Old Mission Peninsula School, attending Legion Dinners and Church Chicken BBQs, bringing Santa to Peninsula Community Library and more.
Understanding the ISO Ratings
“ISO” stands for Insurance Services Office, an independent organization that scores fire departments on how they’re doing to determine property insurance costs. The rating is based on a scale of one to 10, with one being the best and 10 being the worst.
There are three separate areas on the Old Mission Peninsula that are scored independently of each other. On the south end, which includes fire hydrants, the rating is currently a Class 5, but will drop to an improved Class 3 beginning August 1, 2020.
The middle of the Peninsula is currently a Class 7, but will drop to Class 5. And the north end of the Peninsula, which currently has the highest response times – 12 to 18 minutes from Fire Station #1 to Mission Point Lighthouse – is currently a Class 10.
Better Insurance Rates for OMP Residents
Gilstorff says the construction of the new Fire Station 3 on the north end will not only improve response times in that area – he anticipates 3 to 4 minutes – but will also give residents in that area better insurance premiums. When the fire station is built, he encourages those residents to call their insurance companies to ensure they are getting the best rates.
He added that he is never satisfied with the status quo and will continually work to improve the ISO ratings in all three areas of the Peninsula, but he is proud of the improvements thus far.
“There are 29,705 fire departments in the United States, and of those, only 3,085 departments are in Class 3, so we’re extremely proud of it,” he notes. “I can’t stress enough how proud I am of the staff and all their hard work. Their dedication to making us better has been shown every day.”
He adds, “The fire department thanks the community and the Town Board for all the support in giving the fire department the tools to respond to all emergencies. With the building of Fire Station #3 on the north end of the township, the department will be able to further decrease response times to residents in the northern section of the township. We look forward to working with Gourdie-Frasier and Grand Traverse Construction in completing this much needed project.”
They hope to break ground on the new fire station in the coming months. Residents who would like to see the plans are welcome to stop by the Peninsula Township offices during regular business hours. Per current pandemic protocols, residents should call ahead and make an appointment first, (231) 223-7322.
You can also read more about the Fire Department’s ISO ratings and view Fire Station #3 plans by downloading last night’s meeting packet here.
Grand Traverse Construction was also the contractor on the new Peninsula Community Library, which was completed last year, with a grand opening in September 2019.
Check out a few more renderings of the new Fire Station #3…