Work begins on crucial Mendota Heights fire station remodel


Officials broke ground May 15 on a remodel of the Mendota Heights Station, located at 2121 Dodd Road. Work will include an expansion and remodel of the current fire station. (Hannah Burlingame photos/Review)

The station, which dates to the 1980s, is outdated and causes challenges for firefighters when trying to leave on calls. Training is done off site due to a current lack of facilities at the Dodd Road station.

Above, Fire Chief Dave Dreelan walked around the area of the planned expansion, which will include a tower for training, new office space and dorm rooms. Right, with the current set up, firefighters are putting their gear on next to running trucks in the apparatus bay, which Dreelan said is a major safety concern. (Hannah Burlingame photos/Review)

Despite construction work already underway, May 15 marked the official groundbreaking for the $6.8 million Mendota Heights fire station remodel and expansion. 

The event was the culmination of years of planning, said Fire Chief Dave Dreelan, with the council giving the go-ahead for the renovation of the station, located at 2121 Dodd Road, last year.

“The new station will enable the fire department to advance into the future” Mayor Neil Garlock said during the groundbreaking, which he called “long overdue.” “The new station will provide technology and training opportunities that will provide the best service to our city.”

While project bids came in over budget, no real changes to the plans have currently been made. Speaking after the groundbreaking, Dreelan said the department has spoken to contractors to find ways to save money during the renovation process, which will double the facility’s size.

The station will remain fully functional while the expansion is underway. It’s expected to be complete in nine or 10 months.

Once the addition is done, Dreelan said there will be a brief period where all administrative functions will move to the addition. Then, three to four months will be spent remodeling the current station. In total, it could take up to 15 months for work to be completed. 

Once done, the station will offer new in-facility, realistic training opportunities for firefighters.

“It’s important that anytime we have an emergency, that we leave the station well-trained and that we can safely and efficiently leave. We’ve always had to be extremely creative in how we train and where we train,” Dreelan said.

The current apparatus bay is overcrowded, he said, with firefighters putting on gear next to moving trucks, which sometimes have to be driven out of the way to get other trucks out. 

All of that is dangerous as calls come in and the renovated station, he said, will provide proper space and positioning so firefighters can leave in a safe and efficient manner.

 

—Hannah Burlingame 

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