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Firefighters sleeping at station violated fire code

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Jan. 14–ACME — The tang of pulled pork filled a trailer where Grand Traverse Metro Fire Capt. Mark Shaul shared a lunch with a fellow firefighter and a paramedic.

Comforts beyond the culinary — couches, a TV, beds, a washer and dryer — took up the trailer’s living space where Shaul and other firefighters hunker down for long shifts. Most of their work days still take place at Station 8 near M-72, but the trailer provides a needed space.

“It’s just like home,” Shaul said.

It’s a move up from firefighters’ former accommodations at fire Station 8 next door, where they slept in recliners, cooked in a microwave and showered with only a thin curtain separating them from the fire trucks. Metro Fire Chief Pat Parker said a fire marshal recently pointed out sleeping in the station put them in an awkward situation: A fire code violation.

“We have to follow our own code,” Parker said.

Metro fire officials set up the trailers in October as a temporary solution while they continue to look into building a new station. Parker said firefighters at East Bay’s Station 9 — which also didn’t pass fire code muster — will sleep at Station 1 about 5 miles away.

Grand Traverse Metro Fire Capt. Mark Shaul stands inside the trailer, which is their temporary solution,  until the fire station is up to fire code. Credit: Tessa Lighty / Record-Eagle
Grand Traverse Metro Fire Capt. Mark Shaul stands inside the trailer, which is their temporary solution, until the fire station is up to fire code. Credit: Tessa Lighty / Record-Eagle

East Bay Township Supervisor Beth Friend said officials are looking into renovations at Station 9 for sleeping. She said they received initial drawings but have no specific recommendations.

Parker said a major remodeling of Station 9 could cost $160,000 or more. He said officials are shopping for a better price.

“We’re actually getting prices to rehab that for substantially less money,” he said.

A proposal to build a $2.2 million new Station 8 remains in planning stages, Parker said. He said officials are looking at a piece of land owned by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Construction likely remains more than a year off and could require a small millage, he said.

“We’re cognizant that people are tired of taxes,” he said. “We’re trying to do all these projects without raising taxes.”

The timeline means Shaul and other firefighters posted at Station 8 will sleep in the trailer for a little longer. Parker said they will follow the fire code just like businesses and other buildings.

“We analyzed it and said we can’t be treated any different than anyone else,” he said.

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