“It doesn’t mean that we’ve given up on the fire house,” Gebhart said. “It just means that at this time we had this emergency so we’re going in that direction.
“We are looking through the proposal that we’ve received. We are optimistic that something can happen down the road,” he added.
Fire Chief Ryan Williams told City Council that one of two ladder trucks in his department has passed its life expectancy and often needs to be repaired. But parts are hard to come by because the manufacturer is no longer in business.
When repairs are needed, he said fire department crews are also out of service while they fix the truck.
Council members have called the former fire house “iconic.” But last month they approved moving the estimated $1.8 million in federal funds set aside for the site to buy the emergency vehicle because it will provide a core service.
“This is something that we’re going to need,” Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick said.
Williams said had the city waited until this month to order the ladder truck, it would have cost about $200,000 more.
He said the vehicle is “a 100-foot platform aerial,” and is a “multi-use, very versatile piece of equipment” manufactured in Ohio.
“It surpasses any capability and versatility that this community and this fire department has ever had before,” Williams said.
City officials had long committed $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to the former fire station. The financial allotment represents more than 25% of Fairborn’s $6.8 million in ARPA funds.
Gebhart said he will continue to review the fire station proposal and discuss options with council in the near future.
Of the projected cost for redevelopment, “part of it is supply chain issues, part of it is labor issues, part of it that the building was built in the late 1800s,” he said.
The Fairborn Historical Society has expressed interest in the site. The organization does not currently have a facility, and is using the Fairborn Senior Center for events, society President Linda Riffle said in an email.
The former fire house has “great potential to be a vibrant energizer for that area,” she said.
“We have had informal discussions with the city and some of the council members regarding using that for our purposes,” Riffle added. “We have toured it and understand it has many needs.
“It also has a long and endearing history to our town, and we feel it needs to be preserved and used to benefit the community,” she said.
Gebhart said he envisions a food service or entertainment use for the building.
But he is “thrilled that the historical society wants to be part of it … It’s a historical building, an iconic building for the community. So, it only makes sense to include them in discussions on how it’s re-used.”