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Iron Range upgrade: Virginia one step closer to improved public safety

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 1:45 PM CDT
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VIRGINIA, MN. (KBJR) - In Virginia, the fire hall is more than 100 years old.

It’s an Iron Range icon, but some say, it no longer serves its purpose.

“Beautiful historic sight and absolutely non-functional for public safety,” said Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz of the fire hall.

“It’s like a classic car, it’s an amazing thing to have, it’s super fun to look at, but you’re not gonna drive it every single day,” said Adam Metsa, a Captain with the Virginia Fire Department.

Virginia MN Fire Truck
Fire truck ready to roll at the Virginia, Minnesota fire department(KBJR)

According to firefighters, the building was renovated over the years, but it just isn’t working anymore and it’s not ADA compliant.

“Over the years the electrical, the plumbing, many different renovations have been done, to the point where they’re just slapping things together to make it work,” said Metsa.

A group of concerned citizens teamed up with Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe Jr. to find the money to pay for the project.

They reached out to state officials, hoping to build a new fire hall.

The years of work are starting to pay off.

“If the mayor and concerned citizens are advocating for a project, that’s a project of importance to the entire state,” said Gov. Walz.

In Minnesota’s last bonding session, Virginia received $9.5 million to build its new fire hall.

“We have a responsibility to these firefighters to make sure they have the best equipment and the best facilities,” said Gov. Walz.

According to officials, the new building will allow EMS workers to respond to emergencies anywhere in the city in six minutes while accommodating more people on each shift.

Governor Walz says he hopes they’re building history.

“Our hope is that it’ll be here another hundred years,” said Gov. Walz.

The funding coming from state bonding will cover a portion of the project, but not the entire cost.

Previous estimates for the new building came in at $25 million.

For more information, visit the City of Virginia Fire Department’s website.

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