Franklin Street Station re-dedicated Martin Luther King Jr Station
Published on March 30, 2022
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Today, the Grand Rapids Fire Department (GRFD) celebrated its Franklin Street Station officially becoming the Martin Luther King Jr. Fire Station. It is the first fire station in the country that carries Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Street station covers a 2.6-square mile response district, with 62.25 road miles on either side of US 131. It houses one fire engine, one 100-foot ladder unit, GRFD’s Hazardous Materials Team which responds to incidents city-wide, and Utility 2, a repurposed and retrofitted service vehicle designed to control traffic and provide a safety buffer in high-speed environments.
City leadership, GRFD personnel and residents attended the celebration, along with representatives from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA). NFBPA is holding its annual meeting in Grand Rapids March 30 to April 3.
“Names are important,” said City Manager Mark Washington. “Today’s action by the fire department further recognizes the legacy of Dr. King and how this city actively chooses to honor him. The recent renaming of Franklin Street as Martin Luther King Jr. Street, which coincided with the renaming of Grandville Avenue as Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, continues to reverberate through our community. The renaming of this fire station is an important example of the renaming’s impact on public service. I appreciate the work of the City Commission and Moving Ahead for Remarkable Civil Rights Heroes (MARCH) Committee in making this moment possible.”
The Franklin Street Station was the first in Grand Rapids to be named after its street location. Prior to that, stations were named after the engine companies they housed. Engine House No. 7 was commissioned on December 19, 1891, and at that time was located on Madison Street SE. GRFD personnel worked out of that location for nearly 90 years. As GRFD realigned operations in the late 1970s to better serve a growing population and consolidate different teams to streamline operations, Engine House No. 7 was combined with Engine 10’s training company (1734 S. Division) and Truck Company 2 from the shuttered station at 554 Hall Street SW. To end the debate about which company designation the new “superstation” at 115 Franklin Street should carry when it opened in 1979, it was named for the street on which it was located, and a new station house naming tradition was born.
“What started out as a simple tradition of naming our fire stations after the streets they are located on has taken on a whole new meaning with this re-dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Fire Station,” said GRFD Chief John Lehman. “This building and the work these men and women do each day in our community serve as a testament to Dr. King.”
The renaming does not impact operations and the station will maintain its current response district.