Firefighters from Station 6 eat lunch inside their small lunch room at the station on Starr Ave.
The Blade/Lori King
Just about anyone who has worked at East Toledo's fire Station 6 knows there were decades of stories told inside the station's walls.
And just about anyone who has worked in that Starr Avenue station is glad those walls can't talk.
“I'll take the fifth on that,” joked Robert “Shifty” Shiffler, who has worked for 14 years at Station 6.
When the station's B shift crew ended their tour of duty this morning, they became the last firefighters to take a run from the station. The newest station in the city, their new home base at Oak and Fassett streets – referred to as the Taj Mahal of stations – is now open for business.
“We should put a sign up that says, 'We've moved,' ” said Private Rachel Doran. It's not unusual, she said, for the station to get “walk-in” patients.
In the past few weeks, several people have stopped by to express disappointment that the crews are leaving, Ms. Doran said.
The station, although it's on a main road, is tucked into a residential neighborhood – easy to miss if you don't know to look for it. The building dates to 1951, and is no longer habitable for the rigorous run volume that crews there are faced with each day.
In 2011, the station made 10,361 runs, second only to downtown's Station 5, according to the fire department's annual report.
The Starr Avenue station will be used for storage and training, said Toledo fire Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld.
The new facility at 1155 Oak, built with a $3 million federal stimulus grant for firehouse reconstruction, coupled with about $1.3 million from the city's capital improvements fund - at 19,812 square feet - is the largest in the city. Officials say it provides easier access to I-75 and I-280 and is expected to decrease emergency response times.
There are separate rooms for each of the firefighters, a huge kitchen with sparkling new appliances, and workout and media rooms.
“The kitchen is fantastic,” said Private Mike Latscha. “I'm excited about having a roof that doesn't leak.”
It will be nice, too, to have a workout space that isn't in the same room as the sleeping quarters, Mr. Latscha and Ms. Doran agreed.
All of that is great, the firefighters said, but it won't be “home” – not just yet, anyway.
“I don't really want to leave the station,” said Ms. Doran, who has been at Station 6 for a little more than a year. She wanted to be at Station 6, she said, because it was an older station with an established sense of tradition.
To some, it might seem strange to not want your own space, or to feel comfortable in a building with a leaky roof. But, as Ms. Doran said, stations become second homes for firefighters who spend a third of their working lives there.
At night between runs, crews will climb into their beds and watch movies together, tell stories, laugh, joke.
They'll do what they can to make the new place – all shiny and new – feel more comfortable -- starting, perhaps, with finding the perfect place for the station's pet Beta fish, Shark.
"It's a bittersweet move," Mr. Latscha said. " ... We'll miss this place."
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