WAUSEON - Fire safety and emergency services will have new headquarters at this year's Fulton County Fair.
Volunteers from eight fire departments in Fulton County will set up in a new 4,000-square-foot fire house at the fair, which runs Aug. 29 through Sept. 4.
The facility is being built with about $200,000 in donations and fund-raising dollars, generated through the efforts of the Fulton County Fireman's Association.
No tax dollars were used in the project, said Galen Chamberlin, a Wauseon firefighter and member of the association.
Firefighters from Archbold, Wauseon, Delta, Fayette, Lyons, Swanton, and Metamora, as well as from Morenci, Mich. - whose fire department serves a portion of Fulton County - volunteer to provide the fair with 24-hour fire protection each year.
Organizers are expecting about 270,000 people to pass through the gates for this year's fair. As many as 20 each day will seek emergency treatment for dehydration, heart problems, falls, and other ailments, Mr. Chamberlin said.
Fire runs are rarer, said Marv Wheeler, Wauseon's fire chief. Firefighters have responded to several minor fires, usually out-of-control campfires at the campgrounds.
"We've been fortunate that we haven't had any major fires," Chief Wheeler said.
But firefighters remain prepared for the worst and the former fire house presented a number of obstacles as they oversaw fair-goers' safety.
"Our trucks wouldn't fit inside anymore because the doors weren't tall enough," Chief Wheeler said.
In addition, the old building was just off the main midway in an area too crowded to accommodate a speedy exit, he said.
"If we would have had to get a truck out, it would have been a big problem," the chief said.
The new building will have 14-foot high doors, a kitchen, and EMS treatment rooms, Mr. Chamberlin said.
It will be in the southwest corner of the fairgrounds.
"It's going to be a whole lot nicer than what we have," Chief Wheeler said.
Though it will be in use this year, the fire house is not expected to be fully completed until the 2009 fair, Mr. Chamberlin said.
Local companies and suppliers have been contributing to the effort, he added.
The facility will remain in use long after the carnival rides are packed up and the midway is swept clean, he said.
The Fulton County Fireman's Association plans to use the building to house operations during large events at the fairgrounds.
The building also will be used for training exercises.
Meanwhile, the former fire house will be converted into additional restrooms, and an office for the Junior Fair, said Jeanne Johnson, the fair board's secretary. Junior Fair officials have been meeting in a small trailer.
Contact Angie Schmitt at:
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