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Deer Creek Fire Chief Dan Hendershot stands in the narrow corridor where firefighters get their gear on -- within inches of the trucks as they pull out.

Truck purchase also in the works

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By Steve Schulz

Wadena Pioneer Journal

A major expansion of the Deer Creek Fire Hall is nearing completion, and the department is working on a pumper truck deal with a Pennsylvania department that would be a "steal," said the chief.

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The Deer Creek Fire Department broke ground on the 32-by-44-foot expansion last fall, adding on to a cramped 44-by-64-foot structure that has firefighters changing into their gear mere inches from where fire trucks are pulling out of the garage.

The original 2,800 square foot fire hall was constructed in 1976, when much of the equipment was far smaller, Fire Chief Dan Hendershot said.

The lack of space has led to some safety issues, Hendershot said, such as firefighters getting their gear on in a narrow passageway right next to the fire trucks that are pulling out.

"We've got guys getting dressed within a foot and a half of a moving vehicle," Hendershot said.

Right now, the department can't even fit all of its own vehicles in the space it occupies. Hendershot said a fire rig is being stored at a city shop now.

The building is framed and the siding and roof are on the expansion, and now firefighters are itching to put their elbow grease to work once cement can be poured at the site, Hendershot said.

"We're very excited to have it done," he said.

Firefighters will do a lot of the interior work themselves, Hendershot said. The total budget of $92,000 provided for some in-kind labor from firefighters.

The department has been seeking donations to help defray the cost of the new space. Already, a $2,500 donation has been received from Otter Tail Power Company, and other donations are being sought.

Meanwhile, the department is trying to secure a lightly used pumper truck from Pennsylvania, which that fire crew is willing to sell below its intrinsic value.

"It's a steal if we can get it," Hendershot said.

The old Farmer's Cooperative has already given a nearly $18,000 grant toward the pumper truck.

The timing of the expansion couldn't be better. Hendershot said last year, the Deer Creek Fire Department handled 56 calls -- 10 for fires, 46 for rescues -- well above the usual 40 annual calls it fields.

The new fire hall is expected to be complete around April 1, Hendershot said.

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