By Jason Holland News-Gazette Staff Writer
Workers began tearing down St. Cloud’s downtown fire station and moving toward replacing it with a new station two blocks away on the corner of 10th Street and Minnesota Avenue.

“We’re not leaving downtown,” said Bill Johnston, assistant fire chief.

Demolition of the old facility, which will proceed in phases, is necessary because of extensive damage sustained during the 2004 hurricane season, including roof damage coupled with mold, said Johnston.

The old station is located at 915 Massachusetts Ave., within sight of City Hall.

“We had to build on another site because there was so much damage from the hurricanes we couldn’t inhabit it anymore,” said Johnston. “It was too much to try and fix.”

The facility will continue to operate until the new station is ready.

The section containing the station office and training room was torn down Monday. The barracks and fire truck garage, or bay, are still in place. Johnston said a doublewide trailer, meant to replace the barracks and office temporarily, will be installed on the site in about three weeks.

This will allow the barracks to be torn down, although the bay where the fire trucks are located will remain, with an adjacent trailer housing on-duty firefighters, until the new station opens, said Johnson, though a final timeline for that project has not been set.

When they are completely moved out, the remaining structures will be brought down, allowing the construction of a city parking facility, although those plans are very preliminary and have not been finalized.

The fire station has a crew of six for every 24-hour shift. St. Cloud’s other fire station is located at 2600 Kissimmee Park Road, near the turnpike overpass.

According to Johnston, long term plans call for a possible new fire facility in the southern portion of the city, the location of much new development, as well another to the east, site of a recent large-scale annexation.