(Posted Aug. 10, 2020)
Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The Jefferson Township Fire Department is exploring the possibility of building a second fire station and renovating its current station.
On July 31, the township trustees began advertising for an architect to develop a conceptual design, preliminary budget, and funding strategy. The trustees plan to award a contract by Sept. 23.
Prior to Chris Snyder taking the helm as fire chief last October, the department and trustees were looking at renovating and expanding the existing station, located at 745 W. Main St. Snyder asked that the renovation plans be put on hold until he could assess various options.
The two main factors that led to the decision to change direction were: 1) the original station is landlocked; 2) a second station would give the department a presence on the other side of the railroad tracks that run through West Jefferson.
“There’s just not room for expansion land-wise,” Snyder said of the property on which the original station sits. “We could’ve done temporary additions, but I wanted to look at something more permanent.”
The existing station was built in 1981, prior to the department going to full-time status.
“They’ve made great use of that building over the years, but the dormitory upstairs is extremely crowded. Our max capacity was met in June when we hired three more firefighters,” Snyder said.
The department tries to maintain eight fire fighters on duty each day, five full-timers and three part-timers. The dormitory has room for seven people. The one lieutenant on duty per shift sleeps in an office.
A second station would give the department room to grow and a presence on the other side of the railroad tracks.
“We need to build it with the thought in mind that it will serve the long-time needs of the fire department,” Snyder said. “Nobody knows exactly what the (community) growth will be, but trends show it’s happening. I think we will see lots of growth and demands on the fire department.”
When asked if the department has a location in mind for a second station, Snyder said, “There is property we’ve had some talks on. We’re not at the point of having anything secured now. We have strong possible leads though.”
As for how the project would be funded, Snyder said the department and trustees are looking at different types of public funding, including grants. If grants cannot be secured, a bond issue is likely, he said, with funds earmarked specifically for construction and renovation.
“It’s too early for us to know exactly how that’s going to go. There might be a third option out there that I’m not aware of at this time,” Snyder said about funding.
The Jefferson Township Fire Department serves Jefferson Township, the village of West Jefferson, and Fairfield Township.