The first significant project that came out of an April 2013 Lake Ozark Fire Protection District bond issue is open for business.

The first significant project that came out of an April 2013 Lake Ozark Fire Protection District bond issue is open for business.

Fire Station No. 3 on Welsh Road on the North Shore began serving the area in mid-June with a two-man crew on alert 24/7. Completion was anticipated before Memorial Day, but a brutally cold winter and a wet, cool spring hampered progress.

According to Fire Chief Mark Amsinger, the new station will cut response time by four or five minutes, which can be significant when lives or a structure are at stake. Previously, trucks and personnel responded from Station 1, and crossing Bagnell Dam was not only time consuming but dangerous.

The new facility has four bays for fire trucks and an ambulance crew, which were reassigned from Station No. 1. The trucks will include a brush-fire truck, engine and tanker. Two full-time firemen will be stationed at the North Shore location.

“We’ve seen growth in the North Shore area and we’re having more year-around occupancy, so we’re having more calls from that area,” Amsinger explained.

The 60x80 foot building has just more than 7,200 square feet of space including staffing for up to six firemen. The three-bedroom facility also includes a day room, kitchen and other living/storage areas.

There will be savings to the district since lower interest rates resulted in the LOFPD having to levy 8 cents rather than 8.8 cents per $100 of assessed value on properties within the district. Overall, the bond issue will raise $5.5 million for construction of the North Shore station, improvements to Station No. 1 on Bagnell Dam Blvd. and for purchase of equipment.

Station No. 3 has been voluntarily staffed since it was built in the 1970s. It was expanded in the 1990s, but was never more than a garage for housing equipment and offered no living quarters.

“A lot of people are pleased that we’re adding a modern facility with living quarters,” Amsinger said.

All three stations are being designed to meet the growth of the Lake Ozark Fire District.

Station No. 1

The priority has been to get the North Shore station finished before tackling improvements at the LOFPD’s main location on Bagnell Dam Blvd. Amsinger said bids for improvements at Station No. 1 will be opened later this month.

The department is “crammed for space” at Fire Station No. 1, which houses the ladder crew of three-four firemen 24 hours a day. Most of the calls emanate from the main station, the fire chief explained.

But figuring out how to renovate and expand the station, provide quality service and stay within budget has been a challenge, the fire chief said.

The footprint of Station 1 is limited, but there is some room to expand the administrative area to the north and two vehicle bays on the south side. The living quarters on the second story will be rebuilt and modernized, the weight room will be expanded and the EMS/EOC (emergency operating center) will be expanded.

The two new bays will face Bagnell Dam Blvd. Amsinger said the constant right turn by vehicles to exit the existing southwest-facing bays onto the street has caused excessive wear on tires and vehicle suspension. It also provides better visibility for the firemen and for motorists.

Amsinger anticipates improvements to be completed something in 2015.

“We want this building to last another 20-25 years, so we want to do it right and for the anticipated growth in the area,” he explained.

The station was built in 1991 when the LOFPD was all-volunteer. Today, there are seven firemen on duty.

“The district has grown, and we’re stretched to the max,” he added.