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Fire chief 'very pleased' with new station study

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:49 PM

Norwalk Fire Chief Doug Coletta is "very pleased" that Norwalk City Council has appropriated $10,000 from the city's general fund for a study to determine the need for a new fire station.

The Ohio Fire Chiefs Association (OFCA) will be doing the two-month study.

"They do some consulting business and this is one of the things they do. They're a top notch organization and they do a good job," Coletta said.

The current station, at 37 N. Linwood Ave., was built in 1912 to house a fire department that relied on horses. The department purchased its most recent truck, more expensive than a standard size one, based solely on size and measurements. Even then, the mirrors had to be replaced so the shorter, slender model truck could fit through the doors.

"Things just don't fit," the chief said. "I think it's time to take a good, hard look at this building."

Coletta, who in March told council the station is obsolete, said council members and firefighters agree it's time to consider a new facility.

There is one shower in the current building and the dorms can not accommodate a female firefighter. The facility has no general entrance. The chief's office is upstairs above the garage, so citizens have to walk through the station to access their public officials.

Coletta does not want to get involved with making suggestions or setting parameters for a new station. He wants OFCA to gather data in order to get objective information for the city of Norwalk, all of Norwalk Township and the portion of Bronson Township that Norwalk firefighters cover.

The idea for a new fire station started with retired Chief Robert Bores, who held the position from 1991 until his Oct. 28, 2006 retirement. Coletta credited Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch with making the new fire house a priority after EPA mandated expenditures for the sewage and water treatment plant during the city's recent comprehensive plan.

"We certainly wouldn't have gotten this (study) going without the mayor's help."

Lesch, in March, said the new building needs to "meet the needs of today and does some crystal ball gazing." On Thursday, she said citizens questioned what should be done about the current facility during the comprehensive plan.

Like the chief, the mayor also mentioned the need to get objective information, but specified location, size and manpower. "Long term, manpower is the biggest expense," Lesch said.

The projected price tag for a new station is $3.8 million.

"That's not a hard number," Lesch said, adding that the study will look at other fire houses. "We have no timeline."

Council President Steve Euton, in the spring, estimated it would be at least three to five years before building a new station is a legitimate option, given the planning and studies.

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