MADISON - Aging and undersized for modern firefighting equipment, the Minong Ranger Station is slated for replacement in a $2.9 million request included in Gov. Tony Evers' proposed capital budget.
The new 4,800-square-foot station would house four fire engines, wardens' boats, a snowmobile and other equipment in a heated, four-bay, drive-thru garage.
The station's heavy fire control units are currently stored in an unheated pole shed built 25 years ago. The DNR can't store water overnight in truck-mounted tanks due to the threat of freezing during early spring or late fall. That requires tanks be emptied at night and a filled the next morning, which consumes time and can delay a response in emergency situations.
The station only has a 0.75-inch water line, which makes filling a 340-gallon or an 850-gallon tank impractical, according to DNR information. A new water service hasn't been designed yet, but it would be built to meet the water filling needs of the new station, DNR spokesman Andrew Savagian said.
The larger service water line would allow tanks to be filled quicker, he added.
According to the DNR, other problems with the station's unheated garage are the narrow door openings, which require a mirror to be folded inward so a truck can be backed in. This truck may be replaced within 18 months with one 23 feet long while the parking bay is just 24 feet deep.
These tight confines pose a safety hazard to staff when vehicles enter and leave the building as well as the potential to damage equipment.
Roof trusses in the pole shed had to be notched to allow the garage door openers to operate.
The existing ranger station is 82 years old and needs updating and repairs estimated to cost $1 million for it to remain a viable facility.
The office area of the new station would provide space for employees, customer service, storage, crew rooms, a shower and lockers.
The heated garage will also be used as an Incident Command Post for exceptionally large fires or disasters in the area.
"A replacement facility that can store the equipment safely, on-site at the fire response ranger station, and in response-ready condition will aid in protecting department and public lands, and overall public safety," according to a statement the DNR included in its budget request.
The DNR ranks the replacement of the Minong station 13th on its list of 14 projects in its capital budget request. The project is listed behind similar requests for replacement ranger stations in Black River Falls, Cornell, Mercer and Gresham.
If the Minong station is funded an architect slated to be hired in February would complete the building's design in August. Construction would begin in March 2020 and be completed by December 2020.
Pattison Park project eighth on list
Ranking eighth on the DNR's project list is $1.04 million request for to replace a toilet/shower building at Pattison State Park campgrounds.
The park has more than 100,000 visitors annually and the campground is full every weekend during the camping season. A replacement toilet/shower building will provide a dependent campground facility to maintain visitation and more revenue for the park system and surrounding communities.
The DNR's funding request is part of the $2.5 million capital budget request Evers released Thursday, March 7, for the 2019-21 biennium. He trimmed about $900 million from requests by various departments that were seeking approval for projects deferred from prior capital budgets.
The budget is about three times larger than the $803 million budget proposed by former Gov. Scott Walker for the 2017-19 biennium.
Evers' capital budget would be funded by $2 billion in new borrowing.
The capital budget is scheduled to be considered by the State Building Commission on Wednesday, March 20, and then by the Joint Finance Committee, Legislature's budget-writing committee.