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On Tuesday, the city of Toledo broke ground for the reconstruction of Fire Station No. 3, located at Bush and Erie streets in north Toledo. The project represents a $2.83 million capital improvement investment for the city and will add 7,000 square feet of space to the existing station.
"Many of our fire stations were constructed shortly after the turn of the 20th century and they have served the community well," said Mayor Mike Bell. "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."
Fire Station No. 3 went into service in July 1927 and was remodeled in the early 1990s. The station was closed in September 2012 when significant structural cracks were identified in the floor of the apparatus bay, and debris began falling from the ceiling of the basement. Engineers determined the existing station could no longer structurally support the weight of the equipment and apparatus currently used in the modern fire service. The station was home to a single engine, which has been relocated to Fire Station No. 13 on Front Street in east Toledo.
"Our paramount concern in closing the Fire Station 3 was ensuring firefighter safety," said Luis Santiago, Chief of the Toledo Fire and Rescue Department. "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 original plan was to replace it with a new building on Summit Street, but pressure from residents led to city leaders opting to renovate.
"Residents wanted the fire house here. It serves dual purposes for them. It's a safe haven. It's a symbol of what this neighborhood has always stood for," said Beth Lewandowski, a north Toledo resident.
The existing fire station building will be renovated to serve as living quarters and office space for the firefighters staffing Fire Station 3. The expansion will include two apparatus bays to provide structurally sound and sustainable housing for the equipment stationed at the firehouse. In addition to the interior renovation and expansion, the façade of the building will be repaired and replaced in many locations.
Coverage for the shuttered station continues to be provided by Fire Stations No. 5, 7, 13 and 24 during the rebuild of the station. Toledo's fire chief says what's best for the neighborhood and what's best for city taxpayers had to be taken into consideration.
"As far as preserving history, it's going to cost money and are you willing to spend that money. And at the same time, we do have to provide the service," said Santiago.
Fire Station No. 3 is expected to be complete by spring 2014.
Next week, the city will break ground for the new Fire Station 12, which will be built at Blair Park.