The firefighters who work there will serve one of the most populated parts of Christian County.
The Ozark Fire Protection District held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Ozark Fire Station No. 2, a $1.7 million building off of North 25th Street in Ozark. Ozark Fire Protection District Board of Directors President Jay Johnson pointed out that Ozark has not built a new fire station in 33 years.
“This is a special, special moment for the Ozark Fire Protection District. We have not had a station built since the early 1980s,” Johnson said. “Those stations were designed to house the staff of a volunteer fire department.”
The Ozark Fire Protection District is now staffed around the clock by paid firefighters tasked with covering emergencies in a 110-square mile area. They work in shifts of 48 hours on the clock followed by 96 hours off.
In 2013, inspectors discovered a significant and dangerous amount of mold growing inside the former Ozark Fire Station No. 2 on North 22nd Street. Also in 2013, voters narrowly approved a 25-cent property tax levy increase, from 38 to 63 cents per $100 assessed valuation, to fund upgrades to equipment and staffing.
The No. 2 station closed in 2017 when the mold returned for a second time, leading to the building’s demolition in 2018.
Architect John Torgerson of Torgerson Design Partners oversaw the design work for the new fire station.
“I’m proud to see a community come together and support a tax initiative that made this possible,” Torgerson said.
Torgerson, also an Ozark Alderman, applauded the fire protection officials for planning ahead.
“Christian County is one of one of the fastest growing counties, we know that,” Torgerson said. “I want to say a shoutout to the Ozark Fire Protection District. They are proactive in looking and placing stations, placing resources in our community to where it makes us grow.”
A station in the northern part of Ozark is an absolute necessity, White said. He points to the station’s close location to the interchange of U.S. Highway 65 and State Route CC, its closeness to Fremont Hills, the developing subdivision that was once airport land and ongoing business developments on the west side of the highway interchange.
“This is a great location for us. It puts us in the midst of all of that so we’ve got quick and easy access in either direction,” White said.
The new fire station will have two different bunk rooms, one for men and one for women, a storm-safe storage room for bunker gear and a fitness room.
“The layout of the building was designed in a way that allows for the quickest response time from any location in that building to the apparatus bay,” White said.
The size of the building will be approximately 6,800 square feet.
“About 2,800 to 3,000 of that will be the bay area,” White said.
A committee consisting of five leading firefighters oversaw the design of the building. White said the committee worked through a series of meetings over about a year.
“It was a lengthy process. We wanted to make sure we got it right. We did not want to build anything that we would be unhappy with down the road, and we also wanted to build something that we knew would last for a while,” White said.
Rex Winslow, owner of Construct, owns the property where Ozark’s very first fire station was built in the days when firefighters traveled in horse-drawn carts. Winslow said his company looks forward to building a modern fire station.
“We’re really excited to do this, but I think we’re more excited to serve these guys that serve us every day,” Winslow said.
There are four Ozark fire stations, three of which are staffed. Since the old station No. 2 was demolished in 2018, the fire department has borrowed space in the Christian County Ambulance District station on North 25th Street through a cooperative intergovernmental agreement.
“Thankfully, we’ve got good friends in the Christian County Ambulance District,” White said.
Construction will take between 12 and 18 months.