Fire station project officially begins

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 21, 2002

Friday morning, the Ironton Fire Department broke ground on its new home -- and laid an old one to rest.

As Sharon Baptist Church associate pastor Mike O'Bryant said the opening prayer and Operation Be Proud Director Susan Taylor belted out an a Capella version of the national anthem, years of work and planning finally paid off at the groundbreaking of the new Ironton Fire Station.

"My parents always said anything good is worth working for," Ralph

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Kline, CAO community development director, said.

Construction began last Monday on South Fourth Street and Jefferson streets, the site of the old station. The new 10,600 square-foot structure will accommodate up to 30 firefighters, four vehicles and include living space, offices, a room for community services and a three-story training tower. Construction is expected to take one year.

During his opening remarks, Mayor Bob Cleary said the old building's poor condition prompted the city to work for years on finding a way to get a new station. Through the work of current and former council members, various officials and the cooperation of citizens, the new station became a reality.

The station will not only give the fire department better facilities, but make the city a safer place to live, making it more attractive to businesses and industries that could relocate to Ironton.

"It makes you sleep better at night," the mayor said.

Cleary and City Council Chairman Jesse Roberts both praised the citizens for supporting the city's fire fee, which will pay off a $1.3 million bond that will be borrowed. The rest of the $1.9 million project will be covered by $700,000 in Community Development Block Grants and Revolving Loan Funds.

"We will now reap the benefits of safe, good fire service with these facilities," Roberts said.

Congressman Ted Strickland spoke about his recent tour of a plant in Martins Ferry devastated by a fire. What was a tragedy could have been a calamity, the CEO told him, if it hadn't been for local firefighters. Without them, the plant could have been lost, Strickland said.

However, having better fire protection facilities is not only beneficial to business and industry, but individual families, Strickland continued. When he was 5 years old, his family's home was destroyed by a fire. Strickland, his parents and his eight siblings were forced to live for months in a chicken house and a smokehouse because the home was not insured, he said.

"We will all be safer for what you have done," Strickland said.

Chief Tom Runyon said the years working toward getting a new fire station will not be as memorable as the relatively few months leading up to having the new facility.

"We will look back at the old station with affection," he said. "It's been a friend for many, many years. In our new station, we will have dedications and displays for our old friend."

"But, like other tired heroes, it must be laid to rest," he continued. "It has served us well, but it is weak and tired. We are very happy to be at this point. This was a good plan, and this will serve the citizens of Ironton many years or more, I'm sure."