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Janesville Fire

Department Facts

Service Area 34 sq. miles (city); 108 sq. miles (including rural)
Number of Stations 5
Service Area Ratio 6.8 sq. miles/station (largest of any major Wisconsin city)
Daily Staffing 24 Firefighters & Paramedics

Current Station No. 1

At the October 14, 2013 City Council meeting, staff was directed by the Council to pursue the option of constructing a new Central Fire Station. The City of Janesville, with assistance from design consultant Five Bugles, is now in the process of creating a new Central Fire Station to replace  the current station located at 303 Milton Avenue. This webpage will be updated regularly to keep the community informed of the project’s status and new project developments.


 Why does the Central Fire Station need to be replaced?

The current station (Station No. 1), which houses the JFD administrative offices and numerous vehicles and equipment, is 57 years old. The building no longer adequately meets the needs of the JFD for a variety of reasons:

  • There is no separate dormitory for female firefighters. Therefore, fire service employees have little privacy from members of the other gender for sleeping and dressing.
  • Since 1957, fire apparatus has grown considerably in size and the current space does not adequately house the equipment used today.
  • Discussions on constructing a new central fire station have been ongoing since 1994. As a result, many necessary maintenance projects have been deferred (such as roof repair, window replacement, and boiler replacement). These maintenance projects can no longer be delayed, which adds to the cost associated with remaining in the current station.


How was site selected? 

A total of nine sites were examined during the site selection process. The JFD and City Administration have received many suggestions in recent months. The majority of suggested sites are either in the wrong location or they are too small. The central station needs to be much larger than all our other fire stations. The site must be about 2.6 acres to accommodate the building, the drive-through access, and a front concrete apron sufficient for our emergency apparatus.

Several primary factors are considered when locating a fire station. The first is distribution of resources, or positioning the station in correct geographic location. Mainly considered with distribution is travel time of the primary units from a station. The second factor is concentration, which refers to arranging multiple resources or stations so that the appropriate equipment and personnel can arrive in an acceptable timeframe that allows them to be effective in handling the emergency situation. A concentration study also looks at providing back-up for the primary unit in an area, should that unit be unavailable due to emergency calls, training, or maintenance.

Service Standards
NFPA* 1st arriving unit travel time: 4 min. or less to 90% of all incidents
NFPA* Inital full first-alarm assignment of 15 personnel: 8 min or less
Wisconsin Administrative Code: 5 or more firefighters present on scene before beginning interior operations at a structure fire
Janesville first-alarm fire assignment: 3 stations, including central station, respond; a fourth station responds to major fires
*National Fire Protection Association

The city uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) program to evaluate fire station sites and determine effectiveness of locations. GIS analysis produces maps that show travel times for each station and where overlap between stations occurs. While other factors were also used in evaluating sites, the factors given the highest consideration were response time efficiency and response route accessibility.

Because the new station should be built to last 50 years, the location will have a long-term effect on service to the community. Initial costs must be weighed against the long-term indirect costs to the community that would occur if the station was improperly positioned. The most effective way to improve outcomes for both fire and emergency medical response is to reduce response time. While a location was not found that would improve current response times, improperly placing the station could have a significant negative effect. A reduction in response time efficiency is a significant factor that must be considered in the decision-making process.

For more information on the site selection process, acceptable response times and a comparison of Janesville with our peer cities on miles served per fire station, please click here

Why is the location so important?
The central fire station serves more than just the central city, it serves the entire city. Moving the central station shifts all response areas and has an effect on response times for the entire city. Although each of the four outlying stations has a primary response area, the central station serves as the hub for all response activity.

  • Specialized equipment housed only at the central station, including the aerial ladder which responds to every fire call, responds everywhere in the city.
  • Units from the central station provide back-up to the other stations.
  • When multiple units or stations are committed to an ongoing emergency incident, available units move to the central station


Why does the fire station need to be so large?
The number of bays required is simply a matter of space required for vehicles given that the central station serves as the hub for all stations’ service calls. The proposed eight bay station meets the minimum needs of the fire department today.

A fire station committee worked with a consultant to perform a space needs study in 2009. Plans for an eight bay station were developed at that time based on the study results. Later in 2010, the plans were scaled back and the number of bays was reduced to seven. Recently, the station committee has reevaluated the plans and determined that an eight bay station is needed in order to meet current minimum needs. In a meeting with the designer and project team several building modifications were made that allowed for the inclusion of the eighth bay without adding to the overall building cost.

Why not keep the new station the same size and build another smaller station elsewhere?
Building an additional station will require additional staffing, increasing annual operating costs. While building a new central station is a major expenditure, funding additional personnel is much more expensive. The personnel cost to open a new fire station with staffing for an engine and ambulance is about $1.2 million per year.

Janesville does have a need for additional fire stations, which will need to be addressed at some point in the future. As the city continues to grow to the northeast, a fire station will be needed to service that area. A future fire station may also be required in the area near I-90 and Racine Street. The location of the central station on Milton Avenue will remain essential to the full fire department service area. The proposed location of the new station considers future growth and will remain appropriate in a future six or seven station configuration.

 2009-2013 Incident Summary


Why is it more cost efficient for Janesville firefighters to work a 24-hour shift? Why are dorms needed?
A Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) rule permits a partial overtime exemption for public-sector fire departments that use a 24-hour shift, making it the most efficient method of providing 24/7 emergency response coverage. Changing to a 40-hour per week schedule at the current minimum staffing level would require hiring additional firefighters at a cost of over $1.9 million per year. As call volume continues to increase, a change to a more traditional work schedule may need to be considered. But for now, firefighters and paramedics continue to work the 24-hour shift because it is the most cost-effective.

At night firefighters can nap between calls, but there is no guaranteed rest period. The dorm provides an area to rest and combat the effects of fatigue from the long shift. The new station will be designed to provide gender privacy, rather than an open dorm room as in the current station. The dorms in the new station are located on the second floor in the current plan.


What will the new station cost property owners?

At the April 14, 2014 City Council meeting, Council authorized a budget of $9 million for the entire project, including demolition, acquisition, construction, professional services, and furnishings. Council also authorized staff to proceed to final design.

This table depicts the annual average cost of the project to property taxpayers at different total project cost levels:

Central Fire Station Replacement
Annual Tax Impact for Average Taxpayer
 $8.5 million total project cost $13 - $24 
 $9 million total project cost $14 - $26 
 $9.5 million total project cost $15 - $28 
 Based on the annual cost for the average Janesville property value at $120,100
 Range based on decisions to use fund balance for a portion of the cost and    borrowing structure


What is the project timeline?  

  • February 26, 2014 - Public Information Meeting #1 (see below for meeting materials)
  • March 10, 2014 – City Council met to review program budget and site plan (see below for meeting video)
  • April 8, 2014 – Plan Commission met to review the site alternatives (options 1 & 2)
    • By a 3-2-0 vote, the Plan Commission voted to recommend and endorse the preliminary architectural design and to forward the proposed acquisition of land to the City Council. The Plan Commission does not review and consider financial aspects of the project in its decision.
  • April 14, 2014 – City Council met to potentially select a site, approve the floor plan and program budget, and authorize staff to proceed to final design and bidding
    • By a 6-1 vote, Council voted to select the site, authorized Resolution #2014-1075 which allows staff to proceed with the acquisition process, approved the project budget at $9 million, and authorized staff to proceed to final design and bidding. See below for meeting video.
  • April 2014 - Property acquisition process began
  • May 28, 2014 – Ad Hoc Fire Station Design Advisory Committee met for the first time to define the scope of the committee and discuss future meetings (click here for meeting minutes)
  • June 4, 2014 – City staff met with the Janesville Gazette editorial board to answer questions about the project; please see the Gazette’s website for the editorial
  • June - July 2014 - Site survey work and soil borings completed 
  • August 13, 2014 - Ad Hoc Fire Station Design Advisory Committee met to review budget estimates and alternatives (click here for meeting minutes)
  • September 10, 2014 - Ad Hoc Fire Station Design Advisory Committee met to go over the budget and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) items (click here for meeting minutes)
  • October 22, 2014 (11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.) - Ad Hoc Fire Station Design meeting, Room 416, City Hall (18 N. Jackson Street)
  • November 19, 2014 – A Community Engagement Forum will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Fire Station #1.
  • Spring 2015 – Projected construction start date
  • Summer 2016 – Projected construction completion 


What is the current status of the project?
City staff is in the midst of completing the property acquisition process. An Ad Hoc Fire Station Design Advisory Committee, including two Councilmembers, City administrators, JFD personnel, a representative from the Historic Commission, the architect, construction manager and two citizens from the neighborhood was formed to study and make recommendations on the final design of the station. On October 22, the Design Advisory Committee reviewed and approved the latest set of plans to bring the project under $9 million. The project square footage has been reduced to 30,830 square feet. The total project budget is now estimated at $8,973,169.

For more information: 

Please see the materials below or contact Fire Chief Jim Jensen at or 755-3050.

February 26, 2014 Public Information Meeting Materials:

     -   Replacement Station - Preliminary Design
     -   Acquisition & Relocation Process Chart

March 10, 2014 Council Meeting Video

April 14, 2014 Council Meeting Video

May 28, 2014 Ad Hoc Fire Station Design Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

August 13, 2014 Ad Hoc Fire Station Design Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

September 10, 2014 Ad Hoc Fire Station Design Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes

Station Plans as of September 10, 2014

September 19, 2014 Land Acquisition Update  

Bid Results as of October 14, 2014

Revised Budget as of October 14, 2014

Site Plans as of October 14, 2014

Station Plans as of October 22, 2014 

No Clearstory Plans

Station Plans as of November 13, 2014

Facility Isometric Drawing 1

Facility Isometric Drawing 2

December 8, 2014 Update Presentation to City Council 



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Last updated: 5/5/2015 2:18:47 PM