Poland Township's new $1 million, 6,560-square-foot expansion to Fire Station 92, located at the corner of Ohio 170 and Dobbins Road, is officially complete. Just shy of completion is some landscaping and shrubbery work that is expected to be finished throughout August and September.
After six months of construction, Assistant Chief and Safety Officer Jim Stewart reported that expansion was complete, adding that construction had gone very smoothly and that all was finished within about a week from the projected June 30 deadline.
"It was just a well-rounded group of folks that really did a nice job for us," Stewart said of the construction and design teams.
Photo by Joanna Larson, Town Crier correspondent
Jim Stewart, assistant chief and safety officer for Western Reserve Fire District, stands in the new 3,000 square-foot bay of Station 92's brand new expansion. The expansion allows for better parking of engines, glass paned, energy efficient garage doors and drive around capability and more.
The need for the expansion, Stewart said, came as Western Reserve Joint Fire District officials looked ahead to future growth and expansion within the township.
"With the community growing, we're thinking ahead. We don't want to be playing catch up," Stewart said.
The district has been planning the expansion for about two years, Stewart said. It took time to acquire the lots where the new bays now sit, as well as to obtain the necessary platting and permits.
Features of the new space, designed by Tom Madej of Team 8e Architects, include a classroom; a basement for storage; a fire/heat alarm system to protect the station itself; military-grade, non-skid, stain-resistant flooring; large glass-paned garage doors; drive-around capability; and two large parking bays, which can now house the five station vehicles more easily.
Prior to the expansion, the station housed all five of its vehicles in a much smaller area, sometimes having to pull other vehicles in and out in order to access the needed ones. There was also only one main entrance and exit for the trucks.
"This way, it's all set up much better now, so we can have a little faster response out of the vehicles," Stewart said.
The drive-around capability is also a safety feature, Stewart said. Without it, engines often had to be backed in off the street.
"We were backing off 170, and it gets pretty busy at times," Stewart said. "This way, the guys can drive in, drive through."
A push button emergency bell is a whole new system for the station. Now, if someone near the station has an emergency and does not have a cell phone with them, they can push the button outside the station and be connected to dispatch.
Stewart hopes the new system will be an added safety feature for the community.
"There's been stories out there where somebody's gotten to a fire station and they couldn't get help. And they've assumed that just because it's a fire station somebody is here."
But as is the case with many volunteer fire districts, it is not always possible to have a person at the station on a 24/7 basis. With that in mind, the district decided to install the bell. The camera that is attached will kick on and videotape everything happening, while the ringer is connected to dispatch, Stewart said.
"If they put the sidewalks along here, with kids walking, and the way today is - if one of the kids have an issue, they can just come up and hit that and I wouldn't question them at all," Stewart said.
Perhaps one of the most noticeable features of the new space are the glass-paned garage doors, which were chosen not only for their strength and energy efficient specs, but also so that community members can see inside.
"They can see what we do, what we have, what they are actually paying for," Stewart said.
At night, the lights from inside the station shine through the glass doors so all can be seen in the dark as well.
Financing and WRJFD dollars paid for the expansion, Stewart said. With the changes, the station will now be able to adequately house the district's fire prevention program equipment.
The WRJFD serves the township's 15,000 residents, averages around 850 to 900 calls a month and also runs mutual aid to other townships when needed. Station 92 is one of three stations in the district. An open house is being planned for Sunday, Sept. 29.
"We tried to think of everything we could possibly to make the building safe, the guys safe and the community safe," Stewart said. "I'm hoping that in September folks come out and really see what they got."