Columbus fire and city officials held a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new fire station in Linden.
“Where we’re standing today doesn’t look like much,” Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther admitted referencing the gravel and dirt. “But by the end of next year, it will become home to a new 24,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art fire station that will help cut down response times for fire and EMS calls right here in Linden. Fire Station 16 will have four transitional spaces to allow for decontamination before entry into the living quarters, public EMS space for walk-ins, and a direct capture exhaust removal system.”
The new fire station near Oakland Park and Medina avenues replaces the 1953-built facility at Weber and McGuffey roads. Fire officials say the demand for service has exceeded the capacity of the current station 16. In 1953, the city’s entire fire division responded to about 15,000 calls for service. Last year, officials say there were nearly that many calls just in the North Linden district. Funding for the new station came from the voter-approved bond package.
The groundbreaking also featured remarks from a member of the city’s cadet program announced in April.
“I’m a proud member of the inaugural class of the Columbus Fire Cadets,” Tiffany Thomas said. “The cadet program is an explorational, educational, and mentoring program that offers exposure to and training in the career of fire and EMS. This program has afforded opportunity to those of us who historically have had limited access – minorities and women specifically. Throughout each day of training, we are exposed to the various elements of the fire service.”
“But exposure is really the wrong word,” Thomas continued. “Awe is the word I would use. Every day we stand in awe of the very life and breathe of the Columbus Fire Department. We spend our days marveling at the vastness and the greatness of this division. We are overwhelmingly a group of people who have previously limited experience with the fire services. Prior to the cadet program, most of us had never seen a fire before. I had never seen a fire before.”
“The day I saw my first fire, we were learning about extinguishers,” Thomas recalled. “I was in full firefighter gear and nervously picked up this huge fire extinguisher. I put it in my hands and looked up to see for the first time a fire that I was tasked to put out. My instructor said to me ‘this is rapid oxidation, this is fire. Feel the heat, feel how the heat feels in your gear as you approach, look at it, and learn from its behavior. Never be afraid of it, but always respect it.’
“As we stood there watching the fire grow, I was in awe,” Thomas continued. “My instructor turned to me and said ‘now put the fire out,’ and I did. I was in awe of my skills and my training to do so. We spend our days in awe. There is a picture of all the cadets standing around a bomb squad robot. In the picture you can see the thrill, the delight, and excitement as we interacted with this high-tech machinery. We looked like children really. We were in awe. Even this past Friday at the graduation of the 108th recruiting class, a class we watched at the academy. We witnessed as they changed before our very eyes, as they were formed and fashioned into professionals. We watched as they changed physically and became leaner. We watched as their confidence continued to build. We stood listening to the sounds of the bagpipes and the drums. We watched as they took that sacred step from recruit to firefighter. It was awe-inspiring. But mostly, we spend our days in awe marveling at the support, care, and encouragement that the division gives us each day. Firefighters of all ranks and stages of their career come down to talk with us, train us, and teach us. It is astounding the wealth of wisdom and knowledge they so freely give to us.”
“I, on behalf of the first class of fire cadets, would like to express our earnest gratitude for allowing us to participate in this groundbreaking of Fire Station 16,” Thomas continued. “And further, to express our earnest gratitude for all the ways that our instructors, fire fighters, and the administration have enveloped the fire cadet program into the family and fabric of the Columbus Division of Fire. Truly, it has been awe-inspiring.”