CENTERBURG — The Central Ohio Joint Fire District opened its doors Sunday to celebrate the ground breaking of the addition and renovation to the station.
The addition and renovation to the station’s 5138 Columbus Road location will accommodate an ever-growing department that began to outgrow the station back in 2003 or 2004, Chief Joseph Porter said. He explained that the location originally was built to accommodate a volunteer department. When the department switched to full-time and part-time staffing, they had to get creative with the space they had.
“To be honest with you, every time we have a staffing change — like we added firefighters — we pick a different room to make something else,” Porter said of the growth.
Now, each part of the building will have a designated purpose, which Porter said is “really exciting.”
“It’s going to work better for us with the staff we have,” Porter said. “We are doing it within budget. We’re doing it realistically. So yeah, it’s going to be fun.”
According to Chief Porter, the addition and renovations will provide the station with improved apparatus bay ventilation, carbon monoxide monitoring, a decontamination shower room for firefighters, a sauna, new toilet and shower facilities, a new dormitory with individual sleeping rooms and lockers, an updated common kitchen and day room area, a physical training room, a new duty officer office and bunk room (the current space will function as a conference room), a new chief’s office (the chief’s current office will be used as the fire prevention office), a patient exam/treatment room for walk-in patients converted from the existing radio room and a firefighter office space.
Mull & Weithman Architects served as criteria architects for the project. They helped with “writing up and putting together what the building has to be,” Porter said. Thomas and Marker Construction will be in charge of the design build and is expected to start construction some time in December, Porter said. Construction is expected to be completed in May of 2019, according to Porter.
The ground breaking celebration was accompanied by a community open house and chili cook off.
Chili entrees came from Jason Harter with Midway Tavern 1834, which contributed two types of chili; Lisa Wilson with Centerburg Senior Services, First-Knox National Bank; Survival Flight; and from Crystal McElhaney, Milford Township Trustee. Judges were Commissioner Teresa Bemiller, COJFD Board Chairman Tom Stewart, Hilliar Township Trustee and COJFD board member Don McCracken, James Hobson with First-Knox National Bank and Milford Township Trustee and COJFD board member Dick Litzenburg.
Midway Tavern walked away from the competition with a first and second place win for its two chili entrees, and Survival flight received third place and the people’s choice award.
“The only reason that we’re here is to take care of our community,” Porter said. “Our community in our fire district — just the community support is phenomenal. We try to keep them involved with what’s going on out here. We want people to come out here and see us. We want people to come out and visit. So yeah, it’s important that they know where we’re at with things and they get involved in it.”
Six of the nine new firefighters that have joined the station within the last year or so were also sworn in at Sunday’s open house. Ryan Tuturow, Andrew Cella, Nathan Hossler, Matthew Sites, Erik Wampler and Christopher Wilson all took their oath of service in front of the crowd. The other three, Porter said, were unable to attend because of other commitments.
“All of our folks are sworn members,” Porter explained. “Basically what we use is pretty much a military style oath. Swearing to the fire district and to the residents. It’s just part of becoming a firefighter and working for a fire department.”