MERIDIAN, Idaho — The Meridian Fire Department is working to improve response times in part by building two new fire stations. The department is also focusing on firefighter health in these new stations.
"This area is going to be transforming greatly over the next five, ten, fifteen years," said Meridian Mayor Robert Simison about Northwest Meridian.
The transformation is already underway, from farmland and open space, to more and more housing and other development.
The Meridian Fire Department is transforming too, growing, to include two new fire stations, set to be complete in the next year. The culture and mentality surrounding health within the fire department is also transforming.
"It used to be the thing to have this helmet that showed that you'd been out there doing the work," said Meridian Fire Department Chief Kris Blume.
But the so-called salty lid is no more. Now, Meridian fire stations have industrial machines that clean the helmets and other gear to get rid of all cancer-causing toxins. These are all on the "dirty" side of the new stations.
"That's where all of our response stuff, the fire apparatus, the turnout clothing, the garments that we wear as well as where we clean it is kept," Blume said.
The clean side is the living side, where the firefighters eat, sleep and work out while on duty.
"We want people to live, work and retire healthy and that's part of this culture that's ingrained in the City of Meridian Fire Department," he said.
The two fire stations being built won't just improve fire service response times. It'll also help improve the health of those first responders.