Washington Twp. officials broke ground for a new $7.1 million fire station late Tuesday.
The 15,259-square-foot facility at 716 E. Franklin St., next door to Centerville High School, will replace Fire Station 41 on Maple Avenue, township Administrator Jesse Lightle said. Station 41, just off Ohio 48 behind Benham’s Grove, opened in 1969, and at 7,481 square feet is half the size of the new station.
When township officials started looking for land to purchase for this station, they analyzed response time data to determine the best location, Lightle said.
“Our data indicated we needed to move the new station slightly east,” Lightle said. “This new location on Franklin Street will provide us enough land to build a properly sized station that meets the needs of adequate staffing and modern fire and EMS apparatus.”
The new station, on a 5-acre property just east of Centerville High School, offers immediate access to a main thoroughfare, as opposed to station 41, which is in a neighborhood setting, Lightle said.
The new station will provide the Washington Twp. Fire Department with an up-to-date facility that can accommodate modern fire and EMS vehicles. It will feature four drive-through bays and a training mezzanine to conduct multiple types of rescue training, including window and rope rescue, plus confined-space rescue.
Those features are not a part of the existing Fire Station 41, which is the oldest of the department’s five stations.
The new station also will include a storm shelter, a whole building generator and a photovoltaic system to supplement power use.
Its location will help the township address growing call volumes, which Lightle said have “increased significantly,” going from 5,773 in 2007 to 8,759 in 2021, a nearly 52% increase.
The new station also gives the department more room for staffing, according to Fire Chief Scott Kujawa. Fifteen years ago, the fire department staffed itself with 21 full-time, 70 part-time and 56 volunteer firefighters. Its current staffing consists of 80 full-time staffers with 7 part-time firefighters, Kujawa said.
The existing station’s maximum bunking capacity is six staffers per shift, he said. The opening of Station 41 will give the department eight bunk rooms.
“So we’ll be able to expand when we need to (by adding) additional people to that station,” Kujawa said.
The new facility will be paid for via a continuous, 2.85-mill fire services levy that city of Centerville and Washington Twp. voters approved in 2019. Officials said at the time that a new station would be needed to accommodate the increases in call volumes, changes in sizes of apparatus, and staffing changes since the era when most firefighters were volunteers responding from their homes.
Kujawa said Station 41 is one of the department’s top two stations, in terms of call volume. The new station will handle the same area, for the most part, with some of the outskirts transitioned to other stations, but it will help the department decrease its response times toward the east, an area in which fire officials realized there were some “performance gaps,” Kujawa said.
Construction is expected to be completed by August 2023. The station is being built on land the city purchased from Centerville City Schools.
“We appreciated their willingness to allow us to purchase this land,” Lightle said. “We believe it is a great location next to Centerville High School.”