Sylvania firefighters, residents say farewell to historic fire station

4/3/2013
BY NATALIETRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Demolition of Fire Station No. 1 begins in downtown Sylvania. The station, built in 1931, is being replaced with an 8,900-square-foot building that will house 10 firefighters.
Demolition of Fire Station No. 1 begins in downtown Sylvania. The station, built in 1931, is being replaced with an 8,900-square-foot building that will house 10 firefighters.

Before the first piece was torn down from a five-bay garage building, Sylvania Township fire Chief Jeffrey Kowalski seemed prepared to say goodbye to the place he has been stationed for more than 10 years.

“It’s bittersweet. But it’s OK; it’s progress,” he said.

The fire chief stood with about 50 firefighters and residents at 6633 Monroe St. on Wednesday morning as they watched the historic Fire Station No. 1 be demolished.

Construction workers began by dismantling the southwest corner of the building where the fire engine was once housed.

Chief Kowalski stood silent, and a bit choked up, as he watched the demolition of the structure built in 1931 by volunteers.

PHOTO GALLERY: Sylvania Township's Fire Station No. 1

Back in 1978, it was where he interviewed to become a member of the fire department.

“A lot of memories. A lot of memories,” he said.

Although the building will be missed, many who watched the demolition saw the project as a sign the area is advancing.

“It’s cool to see the area changing,” Sylvania resident Cheryl Slotterbeck, 41, said.

Annika Slotterbeck, 7, center, stands with her family as they watch the demolition of Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Sylvania.
Annika Slotterbeck, 7, center, stands with her family as they watch the demolition of Fire Station No. 1 in downtown Sylvania.

Her two children, Annika 7, and Eric, 9, and her fiance, Patrick Green, 47, have witnessed the change in Sylvania’s downtown landscape.

“This is a good thing. We pay for the fire department’s great services, and it’s good to see the continuous improvement,” Mr. Green of Sylvania said.

A 8,900-square-foot building is to be constructed on the same site by Nov. 1.

Before the deal was finalized, some residents fought for the station to stay in the downtown section of the city, rather than to be placed further west where some residential developments are being constructed.

Sylvania City Councilman Mike Brown also attended the demolition.

He said keeping a station near downtown was essential because the area has a higher concentration of buildings, such as the row buildings on Main Street, Lourdes University, and Northview High School.

Since the property is next to railroad tracks, the new building will be raised 3 feet so the tracks won’t be a hazard when fire trucks are entering or leaving. Mosser Construction bid $1.965 million to do the work.

Fire Lt. Steve Kahan stood among the firefighters who call No. 1 their home.

While the new building is constructed, they will be stationed at a temporary facility on Brint Road.

“I have mixed emotions. But I’m happy we’re getting a new station,” he said.

About 600 bricks from the old building will be stored at Fire Station No. 4 on Sylvania Avenue.

Those who work in the department will get first pick of them before distribution is opened to residents.

Contact NatalieTrusso Cafarello at: ntrusso@theblade.com or 419-206-0356.