Debate continues on firehouse location
Caution was erred concerning the proposed location of Vermilion’s new firehouse during a City Council meeting Dec. 3.
A letter from resident and longtime volunteer firefighter Don Parsons was addressed to Councilman John Gabriel with concerns regarding the city’s fire load, which is a measurement used by firefighters to determine the potential severity of a blaze in a given area or space.
“Having worked out of Fire Station One for 35 years, I know the need for a new fire station,” Parsons wrote. “With this first-hand knowledge, I also know the need to have a station that is accessible to the firehouse load of our city ... The new proposed fire station on Devon and Douglass streets is totally against all of the principals of fire load.”
Parsons cited 20-foot wide Douglass Street’s open ditches, the potential of all three railroad crossings being simultaneously blocked and close proximity to the fire station in Vermilion Township as factors to reconsider to proposed location.
He also said the main fire load concerns in the city run east on Liberty Avenue from Decatur Street all the way to Lorain city limits, as well as Linwood Park and the city’s two shopping centers.
“I realize the committee for site selection may not have been aware of the Fire Department load concerns,” Parsons wrote. “Because the committee for site selection says there aren’t any other sites available at this time, (this) may be an indication that now isn’t the correct time to build a new station.”
Vermilion fire Chief Chris Stempowski addressed the concerns at the meeting.
Stempowski said that although he disagrees with Parsons, he has often relied on Parsons in the past.
“Every bit of what (the site selection committee) takes into consideration has to do with the best interest of the citizens and the city that we protect and fire load is always part of that,” he said.
The location also proves most cost effective for the taxpayer’s money, which has been collected over a period of time for this specific project.
Stempowski said the city’s greatest fire load risks don’t necessarily only pertain to businesses.
Unlike shops and restaurants, the Fire Department does not inspect residential housing for fire prevention, which can be just as much of a fire risk as businesses, he said.
In addition, open ditches on the sides of Douglass Street would be addressed once the construction planning phases begin, Stempowski said.
As for the city’s multiple railroad crossings, those have always been a concern for emergency dispatch services.
“Those three crossings have always been a concern for the Fire Department; always, going back to the 1800s,” Stempowski said. “We have things in place to deal with that. We do have the luxury of two stations, so that helps with that.
“The chances of all of those being blocked at the same time, it could happen. Anything could happen.
“We can’t plan for everything, we can’t plan for what can happen. We only can plan for if it happens, what are we going to do.”
Stempowski said the station is well overdue and getting the project off the ground is warranted.
“Since I’ve been chief, we’ve entertained station on replacement three times,” he said. “This is the furthest we’ve gone, and there’s a lot of excitement for it.
“I think now is the time to go on this. It has been delayed many, many times.”