Firefighter housing planned for McCordsville

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McCORDSVILLE — Officials are working to bring a modular home to the grounds of McCordsville’s fire station that would allow firefighters to be there at all times and quicken responses in the area.

The structure would serve the Vernon Township Fire Department while its new station is being planned and built in town, where a significant portion of its runs are located.

The Vernon Township Fire Protection Territory Board voted to recommend that the Vernon Township Advisory Board approve up to $50,000 for the 14-by-66-foot home, which would have three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining area and living area. A crew of three to four would be able to stay there providing fire response and paramedic services from the station 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Located at 7580 Form St., the fire station in McCordsville houses fire trucks, but it isn’t equipped with sleeping quarters for firefighters to stay for extended periods of time awaiting runs, like Vernon Township’s station in Fortville.

“The fire station in McCordsville has done a great job serving the community over the years, but it’s not designed for continuous, 24-hour, around-the-clock living arrangements,” said Mark Elder, deputy chief of the Vernon Township Fire Department.

The McCordsville Board of Zoning Appeals approved a time extension for the temporary use of the modular home. Depending on where it goes on the property, it may need a setback variance.

Vernon Township is in the process of buying land near the southwest corner of Mt. Comfort Road and County Road 900N in McCordsville for a new fire station that will be able to be manned 24/7. At the earliest, it’s expected to be completed sometime in 2023.

With the help of two committees made up of representatives from Fortville, McCordsville and the Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation, submissions from eight companies seeking to build the station were narrowed down to Garmong Construction Services. The township’s fire protection territory board recommended that the township’s advisory board select the firm, which is also building the new Hancock County Jail.

A report prepared by the Vernon Township Fire Department states that runs slightly decreased in McCordsville from 2019 to 2020, some of which was likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Runs are expected to increase at a higher rate compared to Fortville, however, due to new housing starts and growth projections. The latest data indicates nearly half of the department’s runs are in McCordsville, and that average response times are about 2½ minutes slower in town than in Fortville. Meijer and the senior living community Traditions at Brookside, both located in McCordsville, have been the department’s top two run locations over the last two years.

Once the new station is completed, the modular home could be sold and removed, but officials are also mulling possibly using it as temporary housing for residents displaced by structure fires.

“I think it provides a good option,” said Florence May, Vernon Township trustee and a member of the fire protection territory board.

The existing station in McCordsville will continue to house support staff for the Vernon Township Fire Department after the new station is finished.