St. George eyes former Latter-day Saint chapel as new location for city’s main fire station

ST. GEORGE — Facing increasing traffic congestion and a lack of space at its current location, city officials are planning to move Fire Station 1, the main hub of the St. George Fire Department, to a new location in the heart of the downtown area.

Due to a lack of space and growing traffic congestion on 1000 East, the city of St. George is looking to relocate Station 1 of the St. George Fire Department to a property on 400 East in the downtown area, St. George, Utah, May 11, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“We’re looking at relocating our main station on 51 South 1000 East down to that new property that we’re looking at purchasing at where the LDS church is on 85 South 400 East,” St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker recently told St. George News.

Earlier this month, the St. George City Council approved a purchase agreement with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the 400 East chapel for $1.1 million. The city will take on the demolition of the church building.

The 400 East chapel, which served Latter-day Saints in downtown St. George since the 1950s, was closed and vacated by the church in 2021 due to structural issues. Since then a fence has been set up around the property to prevent entry.

While not the city’s first choice for the relocation of Station 1, a new location is nonetheless needed due to the growth of the Fire Department. Increasing traffic congestion on 1000 East between St. George Boulevard and 100 South – particularly during the months when neighboring Dixie State University is in session – also interferes with the Fire Department’s ability to respond to emergencies in a timely manner.

“It makes it really difficult to get to calls a lot of the time,” Stoker said.

City officials initially considered relocating Station 1 to a property owned by Dixie State, which would have initiated a trade as the university had been eyeing the location of Station 1 for its own ongoing expansion, Stoker said. Unfortunately, the property proved to be too small for the Fire Department’s needs, he said.

A former chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints located on 400 East is being bought by the city of St. George for the relocation of Station 1, the St. George Fire Department’s main fire station, St. George, Utah, May 11, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

In contrast, the location of the 400 East chapel and its lot provides the space the Fire Department needs.

Currently, only five firefighters can be housed in Station 1 for fire operations due to a lack of sleeping accommodations. Office space is also at a premium, Stoker added. This has left some of the administrative staff using the dinner table in the station’s kitchen as a shared office, he said.

“The other property is more in the heart of the city, which can help for distance and response time,” Stoker said. “It will also eliminate a lot of the congestion we have at that station. It will give us a lot more for offices and training facilities and storage.”

While the city wanted to begin construction of the new downtown fire station this year, funding issues derailed that plan. Instead, the city is focusing on the completion of Station 10 in the Desert Canyons part of the city where the closest fire protection is over 5 miles away.

“Right now that has no fire protection,” Stoker said. “Anything over 5 miles from a fire station is considered to have no fire protection by insurance companies.”

The lack of a fire station in the immediate area lends to high insurance costs for homeowners and runs the risk of negatively impacting the city’s Insurance Services Office rating. The better the ISO rating is, the better the city’s fire protection is considered to be overall.

“That Desert Canyons station is going to take priority,” Stoker said.

As for what may happen to the original Station 1 after a new facility is built? Stoker said a trade between the city and the university is a likely possibility.

Ed. Note: A previous edition of this story stated the city was working on finishing the station in Desert Color rather than Desert Canyons.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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