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City leaders revive plans to replace fire station

Plans to build a new fire station in Ironton continue to be on the back burner, but the flames haven't been put out yet.

The Ironton City Council Finance Committee met Thursday at the Ironton Fire Station with Mayor Bob Cleary, firefighters, members of the Fire Fee Council and City Council in an attempt to resume plans to replace the current station, which was built in 1912.

Debate about building a new station began at least three years ago. Plans were put on hold because of the slumping economy and the closing of companies such as Ironton Iron and River Valley Health Systems.

It is time to get the project going again, even though it will cost at least $15,000 to have the plans and permits revised, Jesse Roberts, committee chairman, said.

"It will cost some money, but maybe we will save some money in the long run, Roberts said. "Our goal is to move forward. We have waited as long as we can wait."

More than three years ago, a fire fee -- based on water consumption -- was established to fund a new fire station, purchase a new ladder-truck and pay additional personnel, Mayor Cleary said.

The truck has been purchased and the purpose of this meeting was to try to accomplish the other two, Roberts said.

There is almost $300,000 in the account and Roberts says no money has been taken out of this fund for non-fire department expenses. City Finance Director Cindy Anderson laid out a 30-year economic plan that outlined the department's expected budget.

Originally, city planners looked at several options and had a complete

set of plans drawn up by Cole & Russell Architects, Inc. It was hoped that a 12,000 square foot building could be built on the same site for less than $1 million. The original design cost was $1.7 million and was re-worked to $1.3 million.

"As we continued to want to do it, the funding just wasn't there," Cleary said. "It has been three years. We need to get a current set of plans."

Since it has been a few years, many things have changed. Building codes are different, the market has changed and vendors have gone out of business, Cleary added.

A new set of building codes -- the International Building Codes -- will take

effect July 1 of this year. The project would have to renew its building permits before

this date to be exempt from the new codes, City Engineer Joe McCallister said.

The sentiments of many firefighters in attendance were that a building

would be great, but manpower is more important. Fire Chief Tom Runyon said he would like to see both issues addressed.

"We need a building," he said. "Anyone knows that We needed a truck and it has proven itself. I feel strongly about manpower. We have been behind a long time."

Ralph Kline, from the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization, presented some ideas how the city could receive Community Development Block Grants. However, applications are due July 5.

To be able to use the money, Kline said, the city should conduct a citywide income survey. These figures would be almost $10,000 lower than the state's average, which would make more money available.

The building cannot be added-on to because the whole structure would then have to be brought up to current code and that would cost almost as much as a new building, Roberts said.

No proposals for a full-council vote were adopted, but another finance meeting is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. to further discuss the issue. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune