Springfield fire chief wants updates for problematic station

Fire division wants to expand one of Springfield’s busiest stations

One of the Springfield Fire/Rescue Division’s busiest stations is also one of its most cramped, so it has a $400,000 plan to update it so modern fire truck can fit in it.

Fire Station No. 3 on Selma Road answers about a fifth of all of the fire and EMS calls in Springfield, Fire Chief Nick Heimlich said. But its small size means the new engines are too tall to drive in to the station, he said, so the division has to keep two trucks that are more than 20 years old running out of it.

“Both of those pieces of equipment should be phased out because they’re six years or more past their expected lifespan,” Heimlich said.

The Springfield Fire/Rescue Division performed more than 17,000 total runs last year — a 23-year high for a group that employs 127 firefighters and has an annual budget of about $13 million.

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Most fire trucks are expected to last about 15 years, he said, and costs to maintain the two old engines at Station No. 3 have steadily increased.

The division has applied for a $100,000 grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency, he said, to build an addition on to Station No. 3 on an adjacent property. That would all the division’s newer, taller vehicles to fit into the station.

“It allows a lot more flexibility in terms of us moving our fleet around,” he said.

Station No. 3 was built in 1959, Heimlich said, and is in need of an update. The new structure would house fire and EMS vehicles, he said, while the old building would remain for use by the firefighters and medics as living quarters.

The Springfield Fire/Rescue Division has passed the first screening process for approval of the grant money, Heimlich said.

Springfield city commissioners authorized the fire division this week to accept the grant, with a match of $300,000 coming from the city.

But Heimlich said the council will have to decide this fall if those local dollars will be approved to come out of the city’s Capital Improvement Plan fund. The city has a income tax increase request on the November ballot.

“The city of Springfield is facing some pretty significant financial strain and stress,” he said.

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said the city would like to offer more financial support to the fire division. He believes the project is an expense the city will be able to cover this year, he said.

“It’ll make the service better out of that station, which is a very busy station,” he said.

But the community’s support will be needed to make sure the fire division can build the addition, Heimlich said.

Ernie Glant has lived down the street from Station No. 3 for four years. He would support his tax dollars going toward an addition for the fire division, he said.

“They’re the best thing to ever happen to the south end of Springfield,” he said.

Glant has had to call for medics in the past, he said, and they’ve responded within seconds.

“They do a super job down on this end,” he said. “Anywhere on this end of town, they can be there within three or four minutes.”

Heimlich hopes if the plans move forward, the new structure will be built by spring of 2017.