Nov. 20—The Concord Township Fire Department recently opened a new station that officials say will better protect the health of firefighters, offer more training opportunities and provide additional living and storage space.
The facility is located at 11599 Concord-Hambden Road and serves as the township's new Fire Station 1, replacing an older building across the street.
"Concord Township Fire Department is honored to have had the opportunity to move into this fire house, and we are so thankful, not only to the trustees and the rest of the staff of Concord Township, but we are eternally grateful to the Concord community for helping us see this vision through," said Fire Chief Matt Sabo.
Trustee Morgan McIntosh said that a "substantial" portion of the facility is dedicated to a decontamination area, which he described as "an up-and-coming trend in the fire service" that "improves the overall health."
He added that the decontamination area includes equipment for cleaning firefighting gear. Firefighters can also shower before returning to the dormitory.
"The main focus behind this project was around firefighter health and safety," Sabo said.
"For the first time, we have a machine that can decontaminate our face pieces, and get them really clean," he added.
The facility also includes a training tower. Sabo said that firefighters can practice various types of rescues and other scenarios without having to leave the township.
"The firefighters are only limited by their imagination on what they can do in that tower," he said.
The new station also provides space for all of the department's rescue equipment, which was previously spread out among multiple locations.
"For the first time in decades, we now have all of our equipment under one roof and not parked outside," Sabo said.
The department's responsibilities have also grown since the previous Station 1 was built in 1966, he added.
McIntosh said that other features of the facility include a larger workout room and day room, a conference room, a basement training area and administrative offices.
"It's a large facility, don't get me wrong, but for what modern, suburban fire departments have, this is what you need," he added.
The township hosted a ceremonial opening and public open house for the new Fire Station 1 on Nov. 16. It also used the occasion to mark the department's 75th anniversary.
The ceremony began with a wetdown, in which a fire truck sprayed water over the facility. Sabo said that the wetdown was being held to honor the more than 300 firefighters who have served with the department since it was founded in 1948.
The trustees also addressed the audience.
Trustee Carl Dondorfer thanked residents for their support and said that the station was "designed to protect our first responders," adding that "first responders right now are at a premium."
"We are so grateful for the men and women that work here and serve our community day-to-day," said trustee Amy Lucci. "We were committed to providing a place for our team to work and to live, and have the resources necessary to take care of our community."
McIntosh said that the township has a "first-rate fire department."
"This is what goes into keeping them safe and giving them the tools necessary to take care of us in this community," he said
The new station cost $9.9 million and was subject to cost increases from the original July 2020 estimate, McIntosh said. It was funded by an $8 million bond levy passed by voters in November 2020, as well as money from the Concord-Painesville Joint Economic Development District.
The department announced that it had moved into the new station in an Oct. 24 Facebook post.
The township will "eventually demolish" the old Fire Station 1, McIntosh said, though that process is "a matter of budget and timing."
Plans for Fire Station 2 are "on hold" until the township has the necessary funding, he added.
Now that the first station is complete, Sabo expressed the department's appreciation for the end result.
"The fire department has grown in staffing and in equipment, and this new station gives us the ability to be able to respond to a wider variety of emergencies," he said. "We are honored and blessed to have the opportunity to work and live out of a new, modern facility such as this. It is our hope that this new firehouse serve as a symbol of safety and security for Concord Township for generations to come."