Madeline Island fire hall rebuild meets delay

The Town of LaPointe didn't receive bids on two parts of the project

Madeline Island fire hall.jpg
Crews examine the remains of La Pointe Fire Hall on Madeline Island on March 6 after a firefighter reporter an explosion at the hall around 2:30 a.m. just before a fire broke out. (News Tribune file)

Efforts to rebuild Madeline Island's only fire hall, which burned down in March , have been delayed due to a lack of bidders on the project.

In a Town of La Pointe board meeting Monday, bids were opened for six different categories on the project, but the town didn't receive any for general contracting and fire suppression, La Pointe Town Administrator Lisa Potswald said.

Now the town has to rebid the project in those two areas, though Potswald said they don't yet know when that will be.

Because officials hoped to have the fire hall rebuilt by the end of the year, Potswald said contractors were concerned about the time of year the project would need to be done.

It can also be difficult to get contractors to bid on island projects since transporting materials is dependent on uncontrollable variables such as when the water ices over.


Some years the ferries run all year, other years the water ices up early.

The town plans to order a metal building which can take between 10 and 14 weeks, but can't do so until it has a general contractor in place. Potswald said the biggest concern is that it's not certain if the building would fit on one of the smaller ferries as the larger ferries don't run through the winter months.

"We're excited to get it up," Potswald said of the fire hall. "I'm certainly disappointed that it's worked out the way it has, but I understand why the contractors had concerns and we've just got to go from here."

While the fire department was ready to fight fires again about 40 hours after the hall burned down on March 6, Potswald said the department sits at about 75% of its full power. The value of equipment that still needs to be replaced is between $800,000 and $1,100,000.

The fire department is operating out of the public works building on the island and police officers that used the old fire hall as sleeping quarters now use a private home the town rented out.

A new ambulance is expected soon as the fire hall is currently operating with two used ambulances bought after the fire.

Heading into the colder winter months, the plan is to park the water holding fire trucks in the public works building and move the plow trucks normally held there to an old garage currently undergoing repairs, as the town has limited available storage.

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