Sugar Creek weighs need for new fire station


SUGAR CREEK — Shift change is the toughest time.

Eight people are crammed into one tiny area. Four are getting dressed to start their shift, while four others change out of their firefighting gear to head home.

The 5-by-10-foot locker room is just one of the reasons township officials are considering building a new fire station for the Sugar Creek Township Fire Department.

Since 1982, fire station 42 in the 3300 block of West U.S. 40 in the western part of Hancock County has been one of two stations serving the Sugar Creek Township Fire Department. Now it’s time for the 36-year-old structure to move to a more central location better equipped for the growing department, township officials said.

Officials are eyeing several acres of land in 400 block of S. County Road 500W and are currently in negotiations with landowners. The plans to build are preliminary; no construction details, including the cost, have been released.

The six-bay fire station, once considered a top-notch housing structure for equipment, is too small to house modern, larger fire trucks. It was originally designed as a fire house for volunteers, who stopped in for a few hours of part-time work but didn’t necessarily stay overnight; today, 12 paid firefighters work 24-hour shifts, fire chief John Begovich said.

The department’s two fire stations cover 36 square miles. Fire station 45, 3545 S. County Road 600W, is the bigger, more modern facility.

Station 42 has served as a smaller, ancillary facility, but it can no longer accommodate the department’s needs, officials said.

That’s no more evident than when trying to head home for the day, Sugar Creek Township firefighter Tony Tratcher said.

“You pretty much have to take your clothes and go change somewhere else,” he said.

Township trustee Bob Boyer has been working with a committee to study and create plans for a new fire station. The group, which includes Tratcher, has looked at various fire stations throughout central Indiana for ideas.

It will be at least two years before a new facility can be built, but agreements about purchasing land are ongoing, Boyer said.

The township hired two companies to survey the land at 401 S. County Road 500W, where officials would like to build. Surveyors concluded market value of the land is $50,000 per acre, or $134,500 for the plot.

County Road 500W is the east-west dividing line for the township. The property would be ideal, Boyer said, as firefighters would be centrally located.

The township also has an agreement with Cumberland to provide service on the township’s side of Cumberland. The station also provide services to Greenfield as needed. Building a fire station on the desired site would give firefighters quick access to both areas, officials said.