A new third fire station for the Gurnee Fire Department, Lake County’s second busiest fire department, officially opened this week.
Gurnee Fire Department Management Analyst Jodi Luka says that the new fire station, which was put into service Tuesday morning, is located at 5330 Manchester Drive in Gurnee, adjacent to Route 21.
Planning for the new station took several years and the village conducted an analysis to decide on the best location.
The new station is 14,452 square feet and will provide improved response times to calls for service in the village, especially as multiple calls come in simultaneously, Luka said.
In 2019, the Gurnee Fire Department responded to a total of 7,171 calls for service, according to the Lake County Fire Chiefs Association.
That makes the Gurnee Fire Department the second busiest fire department in Lake County, behind the Waukegan Fire Department.
Over the last decade, call volume increased 15%, the village says.
The new station is nearby many residential subdivisions like Heather Ridge and Fairway Ridge.
The location provides quick and easy access to Route 21, Interstate 94 and Route 120.
The station has already responded to numerous calls for service in the past few days, particularly in the south and southeast portions of the Warren-Waukegan Fire Protection District (WWFPD).
Gurnee provides contractual fire protection and emergency medical services to the WWFPD, a relationship that goes back to the 1930s.
Luka says the station is staffed with five firefighter/paramedics and houses two ambulances and one ladder truck.
In March 2019, the village hired six new firefighter/paramedics through the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) grant.
The extra staffing helped the village with the increasing call volume and eventually helped with staffing for station 3.
The village partnered with FGM Architects out of Oak Brook and Camosy Construction out of Zion to construct the new station.
Both construction firms specialize in municipal public safety construction, Luka said.
The original bid for the project came in at approximately $6.3 million in 2019.
Station 3 was included in the 2021-2022 capital budget. However, it was one of the expenditures that were delayed in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Camosy Construction suggested the village seek additional bids for construction because of construction and supply trends around June.
The village followed the advice and new bids came in at $5.8 million, approximately $500,000 under the original bid.
Despite the pandemic, the construction of station 3 was not affected, Luka said.
Officials will celebrate the grand opening of station 3 with a ribbon-cutting and celebration at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. The public is invited to attend.
“We are proud of this Station and want to thank the community for their constant support. It was hard to move forward with taxpayer dollars during unprecedented times, but the timing couldn’t have been better,” Fire Chief John Kavanagh said.
“We came in under budget and on time! This station supports the continuing increase of emergency responses and is a much-needed asset to the Village, its residents, visitors and businesses,” Kavanagh added.
Mayor Thomas B. Hood said, “While the station was approved and construction started under the leadership of Mayor Kovarik, I am pleased to see the completion and opening take place under my tenure.”
“The residents of the Village and Fire District will greatly benefit from this new facility. It will strengthen the already outstanding service the Gurnee Fire Department provides to the community,” Hood added.