A combined township resolution recommending the city of Nevis develop a plan to address the lack of space for its fire department was shared with the city council Monday night.

The resolution stated that the lack of space is caused by a section of the fire department building being used by the city maintenance department.

“We suggest that the city find a separate space to house the maintenance department and … that this plan be ready for our review at the next scheduled fire meeting on Sept. 22,” said the resolution signed by representatives of Mantrap, Thorpe, Crow Wing Lake and Nevis townships.

Fire Chief Chris Norton said ideas for improvements at the fire hall have been talked about for roughly 15 years.

“Townships feel that with the money they’ve been putting in for (capital improvements), they would like to see some progress,” Norton said. “They contract with the city for fire protection but the city owns the building. They’re a customer. You don’t go out and ask your customers to build you a new shop. You build your own shop. The city of Nevis has not necessarily invested back into its fire department. They feel that something should be done.”

Council member Sue Gray said one of the things discussed was how some fire equipment currently has to be stored outside, which could affect the time required to get to a fire. “The townships are worried that time could be compromised on calls, especially since they’re out further than we are,” she said.

Finding or building a shop for city maintenance equipment with an adjoining office for city maintenance supervisor Don Umthun was discussed. He said possible sites include property by the city hangar used for storage and part of the new cemetery that is currently unused..

“We need to look at how this would be funded,” Umthun said. “If you want me to go get some bids I can. But expect some sticker shock.”

“We’re not looking at anything extravagant,” Gray said. “We need an office area and a storage area. I wonder if there are some grant funds out there, too.”

“I think we need to get a group together and look at where we go from here,” council member Jeanne Thompson said. “Let’s not just do it for what we need now, but look at what we’ll need in the next 20-30 years.”

Umthun suggested the proposed shop building should be big enough to fit a double axle plow truck.

“And maybe we’ll need two plow trucks down the road,” Norton said.

“I’ll try to get some plans laid out,” Umthun said.

The council approved establishing a research steering committee for the project.

In other fire department business:

  • Firefighter Benjamin Ott was recognized for completing his fire department training. “We have some other folks who are in the process of going through training,” Norton said.

  • The council approved a resolution accepting donations to the Nevis Fire Department from the Nevis Fire Relief Association.

  • Heard the department purchased the used ambulance approved at the last council meeting and used it for their recent ice water rescue training.

  • Heard 12 free pulse oximeters and wool blankets were received at no cost from the DNR rural fire program. Requests for radios and a side-by side trailer have also been submitted to this program.

  • Received approval to purchase a surplus snowmobile for rescues at a cost of $650 and to look into getting a used rescue sled.