Maintaining a firefighter tradition, a truck is pushed into Fire Station 1 in Sylvania to mark its opening. From left: Sylvania Township Deputy Chief Mike Froelich, Chief Jeff Kowalski, Deputy Chief Mike Ramm, and firefighter Todd Walters. Driving is firefighter Mike Sobb.
In a symbolic ceremony Sunday that officially marked the opening of the newly constructed Fire Station No. 1 , Fire Engine No. 61 was manually pushed into its rightful place on the station’s apparatus floor.
Sylvania Township Fire Chief Jeff Kowalski, Deputy fire chiefs Mike Froelich and Mike Ramm, Lt. Steve Kahan, and firefighter Todd Walters christened the station by uncoupling the fire hose, the department’s version of a ribbon cutting. Joined by Sylvania Township trustees John Jennewine, Neal Mahoney, and Administrator John Zeitler, the men flexed their muscles to give the traditional push, backing the fire engine into the three-bay apparatus floor while a bagpiper played on.
More than 150 people gathered inside the fire station, at 6633 Monroe St., for the ceremony and to receive guided tours of the 8,985 square-foot building. The township fire department serves both Sylvania Township and the city of Sylvania.
PHOTO GALLERY: Fire Station No. 1 open house in Sylvania
Chief Kowalski thanked the trustees, Vetter Design Group, which listened to the department’s needs in designing a user-efficient station, Mosser Construction, which built the station, and — most importantly — the community.
“I would like to thank the citizens of Sylvania and Sylvania Township. Back in 2008 we passed a levy to make this happen. This is the third station out of three that we renovated, and from all of us, all the firefighters would like to thank you for putting your trust in us.”
Deputy Chief Mike Froelich, left, explains the climate-controlled gear room to former Sylvania Township trustee Bruce Wharram and his wife, Mary, during Sunday’s open house.
The previous station, built by volunteer firemen in 1930, was demolished in April. It consisted of a hodgepodge of rooms and operating systems that the firefighters built ad hoc as the department grew. It lasted 80 years.
“Here’s hoping the [new] station will be around for another 80 years,” Chief Kowalski said.
The station includes spacious sleeping quarters on the second floor that have privacy walls around each bed.
The locker room is designed with space to include two more banks of wide-width lockers to store a fireman’s personal belongings.
“This is our home away from home one-third of the year,” Lt. Chris Nye told a group of residents during a guided tour on why they appreciated the large lockers to store their items.
Many residents commented on how impressed they were with the thought behind the design and the building overall.
“We are really proud to see what a beautiful fire station we have for a well-deserved group,” Sylvania resident Jeano Towns said.
Sliding down the pole is safer than running down a flight of steps to answer an emergency call, firefighters say, but there is a proper technique to making the slide.
Chief Froelich guided former trustee Bruce Wharram, 84, and his wife Mary, 81, through each specialized room, providing details and background on how each serves a purpose. For example the climate-controlled gear room protects a firefighter’s jacket and pants from sunlight, which otherwise could deteriorate the tan fabric.
Mr. Wharram gave his thumbs-up on the new site. Also on view was the decontamination room that includes a heavy-duty washer. A firefighter immediately can clean up in the room after handling chemicals or hazardous materials.
But the one fixture that received the most curious looks was the 24-foot, fire-engine red fire pole. Those curious to use the pole were warned that there is actually a proper technique to sliding down the 12-foot drop.
The total cost for the new station, including equipment, cabinets, internal fixtures, and construction is $2.28 million. Mr. Zeitler said some items, such as lockers, tables, and shelves, had an actual cost below what was estimated. Minor expenses, such as landscaping are still being tallied. However, he said he did not anticipate those final line items to deviate from the expected cost.
The proceeds from the 2008 1.25-mill levy budgeted for the project were $2.31 million, with $200,000 in contingency money from the capital improvement fund earmarked for the purchase of new property.
However, the station was built on the same site, and no new property was purchased.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @natalietrusso.