Columbus officials today broke ground on a new fire station on the city’s far east side.
Mike Foley reports.
Fire Station 35 will be located in the 700 block of North Waggoner Road. The $11.5 million station has been years in the making. The economy stalled plans initially. Then a delay in the design phase came earlier this year, but with good reason according to Columbus Public Safety director Ned Pettus Jr.
“That is because I insisted on incorporating life-saving health and safety measures in this structure along with hopefully any future fire station projects for the Division of Fire,” Pettus said. “The features include a walk-through decontamination area for firefighters to utilize after a fire event, leaving their contaminated equipment outside of the living area - and strategically-placed laundry facilities to reduce carcinogens in line with my support for the health and safety of our personnel. The needed features resulted in a larger and reconfigured but state-of-the-art structure. This decision was easy to make after comparing the cost of redesign versus retrofitting the necessary elements once the building was complete.”
A Columbus Dispatch series last year also brought attention to higher incidents of cancer among firefighters compared to the general public. The nearly 27-thousand square foot facility will include four apparatus bays. It’ll be the city’s 8th new fire station since 2000 and the 5th environmentally friendly facility. Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther says Fire Station 35 also represents the first one built under a Community Benefits Agreement.
“This agreement enhances cooperation between workers and the city, eliminating risks of delays and disruption to the project based on labor disputes,” Ginther said. “It also guarantees local workforce for a portion of the project. The people of Columbus are paying for this. They deserve an opportunity to participate in building it. This agreement also offers benefits for the community, such as apprenticeships, focused job recruitment, and diversity and inclusion plans. Every family and every neighborhood should share in the success story that is Columbus.”
Columbus Division of Fire Chief Kevin O’Connor says the new fire station will help cut response times to area neighborhoods by 50 percent. Officials expect construction to be completed by the end of November 2019, with a move in date soon after.