De­bate con­tin­ues on fire­house lo­ca­tion

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jor­dana Joy [email protected]­ingjour­ @MJ_Jor­danaJoy on Twit­ter

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.”

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