Springfield to build 6 fire stations to replace existing facilities

Springfield officials are seeking to build a total of six new fire stations, with three of them to be built by the end of 2024.

The six new fire houses are part of the city’s plan to replace its existing seven stations, all of which were built more than 50 years ago. Reducing the number of fire stations to six and building the new ones in strategic locations around the city will improve services and response times, officials said.

The first three fire stations, which were approved for construction last year, are all scheduled to be built by the end of 2024, said Springfield Fire Chief Brian Miller. They will be located in various sites through the city.

However, officials have not determined locations or construction timelines for the other three stations.

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Construction of the first set of fire stations will be funded by federal COVID-19 relief money.

In total, the city will receive $44.2 million as a result of the American Rescue Plan that was signed into law last year. Springfield has until 2024 to allocate that money for projects and expenditures. The deadline to spend the money is December 2026.

But, it is unclear what funding sources will be used to pay for the other new fire stations that will be built.

Springfield city commissioners have voted to purchase property on the west side for one of the new fire stations. The vote occurred last week during the commission’s bi-weekly public meeting.

As a result, the city will enter into a purchase agreement with Sherman R. Kapp, trustee for property located in the vicinity of Zischler and Bechtle Avenues for an amount not to exceed $170,000.

That station will be built after the ones that will use American Rescue Plan funding. However, a timeline has not been established yet.

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Efforts to build new fire stations in the city stem from the need for structures that can accommodate modern fire equipment and be strategically located in order to improve services and response times.

“The placement of those stations are imperative. Our ultimate goal is to more efficiently and effectively serve the community with six stations as opposed to the current seven,” City Manager Bryan Heck said.

“The average age of our stations is 56 years-old. We know that we are going to have to address that through either new construction or major renovations. That is the path that we are on and working towards,” he added.

Some aging stations are too small to accommodate modern fire apparatuses or don’t have infrastructure needed to aid in efforts to build a more diverse workforce, such as a push to hire more female firefighters.

City officials say that the new fire stations will not only better accommodate new equipment but also help modernize and improve services.

Miller said the plan the city is working on now is to ultimately transition from seven stations to six while not creating a gap in coverage and addressing recent growth to the city, especially in the eastern part.

“We will do that with data. We will make sure that we continue to meet our best practices, response times and so forth in all areas of the city. Eventually get from seven to six (stations) and that gives us some staffing flexibility,” Miller added.

Currently, the first of the new stations that will be built will be located at a former Wendy’s location on South Limestone Street. The total cost of the new station could be up to $6 million and the plan is to break ground on that project this year.

It will be a partnership with Clark State College and Springfield plans to invest $5 million into that project. The rest of the money would come from other sources including Clark State, which has a fire training program.

The other two stations that will be built includes one on Burt Street, in which the city purchased that property last year for $300,000. The other will be located at 3925 South Charleston Pike. Springfield commissioners voted earlier this year to authorize Heck to enter into a purchase agreement for that property with Yingst Holdings LLC for $305,000.

The latter will better accommodate a planed increase in residential housing in the east side of the city, due to several planned housing developments located on land annexed to the Springfield from Springfield Twp.

No immediate plans have been made regarding what will happen to current fire stations once they are replaced, said Heck.

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