The Bell administration’s original plan last year to shutter the city’s oldest firehouse was officially buried Tuesday with a ceremonial groundbreaking for renovation of the 86-year-old building at Bush and Erie streets in North Toledo.
Mayor Mike Bell and Fire Chief Luis Santiago, who presided over the ceremony for Fire Station No. 3, both said they were pleased it would remain open.
The $2.83 million project will add 7,000 square feet of space to the station and is expected to be completed by spring, 2014.
“Many of our fire stations were constructed shortly after the turn of the 20th century, and they have served the community well,” Mayor Bell said. “By renovating and expanding 3’s station we are preserving a piece of Toledo and fire service history while continuing to provide professional emergency services to the North Toledo neighborhood.”
The mayor added: “It would be a shame to tear this building down.”
The station opened in July, 1927, and was remodeled in the early 1990s, he said.
Retired Toledo fire chiefs Carl Neeb and Bill Winkle were also present for the ceremony.
Mr. Winkle said he was shocked last year when closing the station was proposed. “It’s a special building and there is not one like it around,” he said.
The station was closed in September, 2012, when “significant structural cracks” were found in the floor of the apparatus bay and debris began falling from the ceiling of the basement. The fire trucks and personnel were moved temporarily, but indefinitely, across the Maumee River to Station 13 on Front Street in East Toledo, about a mile away from the firehouse on Bush Street.
“Our paramount concern in closing the Fire Station 3 was ensuring firefighter safety,” Chief Santiago said. “This new facility will enable us to continue service in this neighborhood and ensure that our firefighters have a safe, high-quality place to live and work while on their tour.”
The renovation includes updated living quarters and office space and two new apparatus bays built adjacent to the building. Also, the facade of the building will be repaired and replaced in many locations.
Earlier this month, Toledo City Council voted 12-0 to have the city pick up an additional $2.1 million in costs for two projects — the renovation of Fire Station 3 and a new Fire Station 12 at Suder Avenue and Chase Street
Councilmen D. Michael Collins said he wanted a professional engineering report of Fire Station 3. Councilman Tom Waniewski said the increase, which raised the total price for the two projects from $4.84 million to $6.94 million, was “very tough to swallow.”
Groundbreaking for the new Fire Station 12 is planned for Sept. 5.