New Haven's fire station is getting a nearly $1 million upgrade that will facilitate the area's response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Officials broke ground Monday on a 2,600-square-foot expansion of the New Haven-Adams Township fire station on Hartzell Road. The addition will include a covered drive-thru bay that could be used to administer COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, plus an indoor space available for varied uses.
Mayor Steve McMichael said the flex space could be used as an office for health officials, a warming and cooling center for the community, a meeting room, a training room, and a command center and shelter in case of a natural disaster.
“This is a big deal, for not only New Haven but all of eastern Allen County and also parts of Fort Wayne,” McMichael said.
Plans call for the project to be done by early May, he said. The project does not include additional fire or Emergency Medical Services vehicles, officials said.
The project also represents a “public-public partnership,” said Allen County Commissioner Rich Beck. That's because of federal, state, county and local government support for the addition, he said.
McMichael said some money New Haven received from the federal CARES Act for fighting COVID-19 will be used, along with money left from a bond issued for work at the station. The county will also be approached for funding, he said.
The idea for the expansion came during meetings to map out a COVID-19 strategy, although the concept had been floated earlier. New Haven's fire station was pressed into service as a COVID-19 testing site for several weeks at the start of the pandemic, testing 4,500 people during that time, as many as 180 a day.
Joshua Hale, New Haven fire chief, said the fire station idea gained traction after a plan to use a Meadowbrook Park pool building for health care services was unsuitable.
McMichael pledged to dedicate the building addition to front-line health care workers – doctors, nurses, technicians, EMTs, dispatchers, and police and fire personnel. “They have risen to the call,” he said.