INDIANOLA, Iowa — Crammed offices, security concerns and an outdated heating and cooling system are just a few of the many reasons Indianola public safety officials say they need a new building.
Indianola’s city hall — which also houses its fire department and police department — dates back to the 1960s.
“The building is beginning to fail. The lack of space, inefficiency of the building,” Indianola firefighter Bob Soukup said. “…We are not just saying this. For us to be able to do our job effectively, we need a new public safety building.”
Soukup said the infrastructure of the building has not kept up with the city’s growth.
“In the last few years we’ve added more full-time staff — police and fire. But we are out of space to house them,” he said. “As well as with the new equipment that we are bringing on board as the city grows, there’s more demand.”
The fire department has a small area with a kitchen/living space and bunk bed rooms for emergency responders working overnight shifts. Soukup said not only are they running out of space, but that the outdated boiler systems make for either freezing or scorching climate inside.
“When you’re working on a 24-hour shift as the firefighters do and you’ve had a busy day, and you have an opportunity at 10 o’clock at night to lie down and maybe get a little bit of sleep, and you’ve got an HVAC system that’s 110 degrees in your sleep room — obviously then that’s going to affect those calls that you take later that night. You’re not rested, you’re not at your 100 percent,” he said.
It’s a similar problem in the police department, where Lieutenant Rob Hawkins describes the crammed, small offices as a distracting environment for officers trying to get work done.
“You might have somebody on the telephone … taking notes and typing something in the computer, but right next to them almost shoulder to shoulder is another person on another computer trying to handle their case,” Hawkins said. “There’s just a lot of cross contamination, if you will, of cases and and guys are just trying to get things done and it just makes it a lot more difficult than it should be.”
While unpleasant, Hawkins and Soukup want to stress that it isn’t just minor inconveniences — but issues that get in the way of them doing their job in the most effective manner.
“This isn’t for us. Ultimately this is for the residents of Indianola, we serve them,” Soukup said.