Built in the 1920's, the fire station in Bessemer is the oldest structure in the community. The question now is, is it too old to be functional?
Pueblo firefighters say they would like to move into a new fire station in a different location. But, city officials say the current building is too historic to demolish. Now, instead they are considering renovation.
The old building stands at the corner of east Evans and Mesa in Bessemer. Years ago, when Bessemer was a separate community, it served as the town hall. The Pueblo firefighters who work there now say it's true the building has historical vallue, but it doesn't function effectively as a modern day fire station.
Fire Chief Greg Miller says most of the problems center around the building's stability. He says the roof leaks when it rains, and water gets into the walls. One firefighter says she even keeps a tarp on her bed to keep it dry. Not to mention, the station has some other residents, termites. That, firefighters say, makes for an unsafe working environment. Chief Miller says the bugs are eating away at the door and the window frames.
Pueblo city councilman Ray Aguilera says the city has failed to maintain the building in the past 40 to 50 years. But, he says, that doesn't mean it should be torn down. Aguilera says, "I'm for renovating that building, keeping a piece of our history and a portion of Pueblo in tact."
The city estimates renovation on the firestation will cost $2.5 million, although Councilman Aguilera says those numbers are probably on the high side.
A brand new fire station could be built for about $800,000.
Councilman Aguilera says a portion of the $13 million the city expects to get from Xcel Energy this year, could go towards to fire station renovation project.