EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was written in response to reader-submitted questions through Open Source, a platform where readers can ask Richland Source’s newsroom to investigate a question.
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP ─ A project of building a new home for Washington Township Fire and Road Departments has been moved forward after the residents’ approval in early May.
“Have you heard anything new about the Washington Township Fire Station since the close vote to approve on May ballot?” a reader recently asked Richland Source through the Open Source platform.
According to an official result from Richland County Board of Elections, 281 township residents voted for the 2.4 mill, 30-year bond issue and 275 voted against it. The bond issue will cost an owner of a $100,000 home about $84 each year, according to township chairman trustee Bob Entenmann.
He recently told Richland Source the township has sent out an application to secure a loan from United States Department of Agriculture with residents’ support. He said he expected that to be approved within the next eight weeks.
Also, the architect for the project has been working on different building drawings, Entenmann said. The trustees should be ready to vote on the final design in the next few meetings and send it to USDA, according to the chairman.
“From a shovel-ready standpoint, I would hope the shovel would go into the ground for the building by mid-summer of next year. That's our hope,” he said.
The new building for fire and road departments will be located at Vanderbilt Road and Ohio 13. Entenmann said trustees will see how various drawings can be accommodated to the site and choose the least expensive plan.
The project’s top dollar is $9 million, according to Entenmann.
The current building locating at 2480 Possum Run Road was built more than 60 years ago. Entenmann said the facility does not meet the current standards for a fire department required by the Environmental Protection Agency, while the township has been grandfathered on those standards.
The new building will incorporate new equipment with proper ventilation that can clean and detoxify the firefighters’ clothing, Entenmann said. Their clothes and the fire engines are contaminated by cancer-causing substances after coming back from a fire, he said.
Additionally, having Walmart across the street from the current fire station, Entenmann said firefighters can’t get into and leave the station quickly, losing precious time responding to a call.
Washington Township Fire Department has a workforce of 35 volunteers. Entenmann said the agency can only provide on-site service from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. now because there is no sleeping quarters and bathrooms for personnel to stay overnight.
With the new location, Entenmann said the township will be able to expand the on-site service to 24/7 and shorten the response time.
“We're probably gonna be at least eight minutes earlier,” the chairman said of the rough estimate.