By Debby Woodin
JOPLIN, Mo. —
One of Joplin’s replacement fire stations will take on a historical look complete with a brass sliding pole to take firefighters down from their second-floor sleeping quarters to the awaiting trucks.
Fire Chief Mitch Randles said a two-story station has been designed for a site at 3402 S. Hearnes Blvd. It will replace the station at 2010 E. 15th St. that was destroyed in the 2011 tornado.
“It will be modeled after the older stations,” Randles told the City Council on Monday. “If you look at the old building at 19th and Wall that is now the Lions Club, you will get an idea of what it will look like.”
He briefed the council on the design plans so far for the new Hearnes Boulevard station and another to be built at 2825 W. Junge Blvd. that will replace the station at 2216 S. Maiden Lane, which also was destroyed by the tornado.
Design features of the Hearnes Boulevard station that hearken to the past include a red brick exterior edged in light-colored accent stone with arched windows and doorways.
Randles said the department still has two brass sliding poles that were saved from old stations, one of them the former station at 19th Street and Wall Avenue. He said that if one of the poles is not long enough to fit the height of the new station, the two poles can be welded together and recoated in brass for use.
The Wall Avenue station was built in 1939.
“It was a WPA (Works Progress Administration) project, and it was built with bricks from the streets when they repaved,” said Leslie Simpson, historian of the Post Memorial Art Reference Library. It resembles an earlier station that is located at St. Louis Avenue and Langston Hughes-Broadway, she said.
Randles said the novelty of sliding down the brass pole will likely wear off among the firefighters except for when new ones come on board, so there also will be a staircase.
The new station will be built at an angle on the lot. Randles said that is being done to accommodate a larger turning radius for the fire engines than a station facing directly on Hearnes Boulevard could provide, and it also will make the front entrance of the station visible from the intersection at 32nd and Main streets.
It will be 6,500 square feet in size, with two firetruck bays and sleeping quarters for five firefighters. That is about 2,000 square feet more than the previous station. Construction costs are expected to be $1.4 million to $1.6 million, he said, or about $225 per square foot.
The new station on Junge Boulevard, near Schifferdecker Avenue, will cost about the same and will be slightly larger, about 7,500 square feet.
It will be a more modern design, similar to that of the newly finished Station No. 6 at 32nd Street and Black Cat Road.
Randles said it will keep down the cost to refit the No. 6 design for the new station.
It will be constructed with garage bay exits for the firetrucks facing Junge Boulevard. It also will accommodate five firefighters.
All of Joplin’s new stations will have storm shelter rooms.
The fire and police stations long were housed at City Hall. An early one at Second Street and Joplin Avenue had curved windows and doorways similar to the design for the new Hearnes Boulevard station.
Councilman Mike Woolston asked Randles if the old look would fit with the new design guidelines for South Main Street, which becomes Hearnes Boulevard south of 32nd Street.
City Planner Troy Bolander said the new guidelines call for buildings that are designed either in a mode similar to that of the historical structures already found in Joplin or with modern features.
JOPLIN HAS HAD a fire department since 1882. The first one was volunteer. A paid force was soon instituted to improve reliability and response time.