EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio (WKBN) – When a firefighter joins the East Liverpool Fire Department, they are signing up to serve the community but also joining a program with a lot of history.
That history can be seen as one drives down St. Clair Avenue and passes the 91-year-old, red-brick building. While beautiful and awe-inspiring to be transported back in time, the building is showing signs of wear and tear from use over the years.
“It’s served its time,” Councilman and Chairman of the Safety Committee Jeff Kreefer said.
Kreefer would know as well as anyone because, until 2016, he served as the assistant fire chief. Kreefer also works in carpentry, and during his time at the station, he would do various repairs needed on the building.
One of the issues he has noticed is the flat, concrete roof, which was replaced in the 1990s, is leaking and could cost $50,000 to fix.
There’s also no insulation in the building or central air, and the metal window lintels are rusting and causing the brick to bow out.
“Right now, we’re just in preliminary talks to see if there’s any funding out there that we can get to, basically, get a new station,” Kreefer said.
Fire Chief William Jones said they’ve had to special order trucks with narrower mirrors so they can fit inside their doors. They also have to park their hazardous material truck outside because they’re out of room.
“Just about everything needs updated, everything from the 1930s,” Jones said.
One of those items is the showers and only one of the four works. When a group of responders is coming back after a fire, it’s important to shower as quickly as possible to wash off carcinogens to maintain their health, and only having one shower slows that process down.
“Newer fire stations now have dedicated room to keep their firefighter bunker gear,” Jones said.
They don’t have that. Theirs is located behind one of the trucks, so anytime it’s turned on, it sprays diesel fumes and more carcinogens onto their gear, which degrades them.
“That’s the big thing that concerns me is their [firefighters’] safety,” Jones said. “I have a great group of guys.”
Simply put, they say they’ve outgrown their space and done all they can to try and repair and update the building all the while still providing service to East Liverpool and surrounding areas.
They will be receiving another round of stimulus from the government and are looking to see if that can be used to help their cause. Their first round of stimulus went toward PPE to maintain firefighter safety on calls.
We’re just in the beginning stages; we don’t have any designs. I hope to go look at a couple of fire stations around the area that have just been built to get some ideas and see what they can do,” Jones said.
The process won’t be quick, between finding the funding, planning the design and making sure it’s in accordance with the historical society. While the road might be long, they’re happy to get the ball rolling on the project.
“The job is dangerous enough as it is, we need to make sure that they’re well taken care of here,” Kreefer said.