Bids sought for construction of new firehouse

Bids are now being sought for the construction of the new Nemaha County Fire District No. 4 firehouse in Bern.

Bids opened Wednesday, April 4, after the project’s architect – Emily Koenig – and the Bern Firehouse committee finalized the plans. The new 7,500 square foot facility will house the storage of trucks and equipment, a locker and preparation area for firefighters, a restroom, and main and mezzanine level storage.

All of the construction for the project will be directed under the guidelines of the KAN-STEP Community Development Block Grant funding. Staff with the Kansas Rural Water Association (KRWA) will serve as the project manager for the volunteer labor and equipment required of this project.

Separate sealed bids for materials and specifically identified labor in the construction of the firehouse will be received by the Nemaha County Clerk for the Nemaha County Fire District No. 4. Bids will be accepted until 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 25, when they will be opened and read publicly.

Questions concerning the contract documents or approved substitution requests shall be addressed to ekoe architecture via email at or by calling 785-341-0330.

According to Grant Administrator Garrett Nordstrom, there is no official date set for accepting the winning bid, but work should begin as soon as the bids are accepted. Nordstrom said construction on the building should be complete by June 2019 at the latest.

Project History

The process for building a new firehouse began in January 2016 after three representatives with the Bern Firehouse committee approached the Nemaha County Commission about applying for the KAN STEP Grant.

A public hearing was held two weeks later, and it was approved to move forward with the pre-application process.

After the pre-application was approved through the KDOC, a site visit meeting was held on March 7, 2016. One hundred twelve community members were present for the site visit meeting, at which the two KDOC representatives explained the KAN STEP grant process and what was expected of the community, as well as potential pitfalls.

On May 16, 2016, Bern Fire District No. 4 representatives went back before the board in order to choose a KAN STEP grant administrator and architect to help complete the project. In September 2016, the grant was denied due to the size of the building that was planned.

In January 2017, the committee approached the Nemaha County Commission and received their approval to apply for KAN STEP Grant again. In March 2017, the committee received approval for their pre-application.

In June 2017, the committee submitted their final application. In July 2017, the committee received approval for the grant.

About the Grant

The KAN STEP Grant will provide funds if the community is willing to provide sweat equity and donations to equal at least 35 percent of the project.

As part of the grant, an income survey is conducted and a significant percentage of the fire district must be classified as “low to moderate income” according to the grant guidelines.

The KAN STEP grant is the same grant that was used to build the Bern, Morrill and other community buildings.

Heather Stewart259 Posts

Heather Stewart is a reporter for The Sabetha Herald, where she has been on staff since 2015. She specializes in court and sports reporting, as well as photography. Heather is a 2011 Kansas State University graduate with a degree in psychology. She lives in Sabetha with her husband.


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