The new Hamilton Fire Hall moved a step closer with approval of a Conditional Use permit from the Hamilton Zoning Board of Adjustment Monday evening. The permit will allow the construction of the building at the corner of Skeels Avenue and Foxfield Street, two blocks east of US 93.

The site is located out of the Central Business District, where the current fire department has been for over 115 years (back when fire wagons were pulled by horses). Modern firetrucks are now too large for the garage bays in the building and the new facility will allow “drive-through” garages to house the trucks, according to Fire Chief Brad Mohn.

There will also be associated street work. Construction this year will connect Skeels Avenue with Fairgrounds Road, allowing easier fire department response to calls in the northeast portion of Hamilton. Expansion of the city limits with more population is one of the main reasons for a better fire hall. In the last 10 years, the department fire calls have increased an estimated 89 percent.

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Chief Mohn said the building is being designed to serve the community for the next 50 years. As Hamilton continues to grow, Montana law will require the city to have paid firefighters on duty. Mohn said that possibility is being included in the building plans.

One of the things that is NOT moving to the new location is the fire alarm. The siren will remain downtown at the old fire station at State and South 3rd. Fire Chief Brad Mohn said the siren will still sound when the department is called, but that the volunteers have pagers that alert them individually. The alarm sound will not move from its present location.

The building project on the 1.35-acre lot is expected to cost at least $5 million. Hamilton Mayor Dominic Farrenkopf said the city has $2 million reserved and will be financing and fundraising the remaining portion of the cost. He's hopeful that groundbreaking will be this fall.

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