To modernize its amenities, the Oak Park Fire Department’s south station, 515 Garfield St., will undergo significant renovations to its south side, which encompasses bathrooms, sleeping quarters and the work out facility.
“There hasn’t been any remodeling of that section for 59 years. It’s mostly all original,” said Deputy Fire Chief Peter Pilafas.
Opened on Jan. 15, 1961, the station has received very minimal updates since.
“Due to the age of the building, once we start remodeling, we’re not sure what we’re going to uncover,” Pilafas said.
The village has allocated $150,000 from its capital improvement budget for the fire station’s renovation.
“We appreciate the village’s support in going through this project,” Pilafas said.
Out of 6,200 square feet, 2,100 will be remodeled. The planned renovations include building gender-neutral bathrooms. The updated station will have three separate bathrooms complete with new plumbing and fixtures.
“We don’t have any facilities for women,” Pilafas said. “This is a great time for us to make accommodations for the future.”
The fire department does not currently have any women firefighters or paramedics. The department’s last female retired in 2017.
“We’re trying to bring it up to date and modernize it,” he said. “This is going to be an entire remodel and reconfiguration.”
Currently the south side of the station is broken up into three rooms: the bunk room and weight room, a very small locker room, and then one big bathroom.
“There’s really very limited privacy there,” Pilafas said. “That fire station, at times, has up to five individuals.”
Bids from contractors are due March 6. Then the fire department will review them, which Pilafas expects to take a few weeks. Pending village board approval, Pilafas thinks a contractor will be selected in maybe April or May. He hopes the work will start this summer.
The fire department cannot estimate how long the renovation process will take until it receives and reviews contractor bids. For those concerned with how the renovation may affect the department’s ability to fight fires, Pilafas offered some comfort:
“Rest assured that that station will remain open and functioning during this project.”