Representatives of Liberty Township and Delaware County gathered Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the start of construction on the new Fire Station 321, located at 7761 Liberty Road N. in Powell.
The new fire station will be constructed directly north of the existing station on the location of the current baseball fields. The baseball fields will then be shifted just south to the current location of the fire station. The construction of the fire station is part of three building upgrades in the township that include a new maintenance facility in Liberty Park and a new township office that is currently being built across the road from the fire station.
Among the representatives on hand to speak during Thursday’s ceremony were Liberty Township Trustee Bryan Newell, Fire Chief Tom O’Brien and Delaware County Treasurer Donald Rankey Jr.
“As a township, we don’t have a lot of power and authority to do things,” Newell said. “People look at this position like it might be something worth having, and that it’s a big power player position. It’s not. You have to beg for a lot of stuff, and we’re lucky to be in this county where we’re supported by a lot of upper-level government that wants to see us succeed. We’re very lucky that they’re willing to partner with us on our crazy ideas, like building several new buildings all at once. I can’t thank them enough for their support across the board.”
Newell said considerations for a new fire station began approximately a year ago when the township started analyzing the condition of the existing building and the township’s options for an upgrade. “The more we got into it, it seemed that if we could be cost-competitive, (the new building) would be the ultimate option,” Newell said.
“We have a modern station that’s going to be built. It’s going to increase our efficiencies, improve our run time, and be safer for our firefighters,” he went on to say. “All of those things that improve over time are going to culminate in this station. That’s not to say this was a bad station for us. It was just designed for a different time and a different type of department.”
O’Brien said the design of the new station went through several iterations before the team decided on a “long-term, workable plan.” The original design began as a two-story station, he said, but in always striving for better response time, he found that as many as 30 seconds of response time could be eliminated simply by firefighters not having to come down an apparatus.
“We’ve eliminated that 30 seconds that we’ve been losing by (reconfiguring) the station design and where we have our bedrooms and the number of doorways we have to go through,” O’Brien said.
He added, “Just the ability to pull straight out onto Liberty Road instead of having to make a right turn every time is going to be a huge safety increase. We’ll also have much better vision as we pull out onto Liberty Road compared to the tree line we have (by the current station).”
O’Brien said the building was designed “with growth in mind,” meaning there will be room for the station to “respond more apparatus out of there should the need arise.”
Rankey called the ceremony “one of the greatest days in Liberty Township (history),” adding the “three-year war to save the fire services is officially over.”
Construction of the new station is expected to be completed next July. Like the current station, the new Fire Station 321 will be dedicated to the late Fire Chief John Bernans, who was the first full-time fire chief in Liberty Township.
“It was never even a point of discussion,” Newell said of the dedication.
Liberty Township held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for its new Fire Station 321. Pictured, left to right, are Delaware County Treasurer Donald Rankey Jr., Trustee Scott Donaldson, Fiscal Officer Rick Karr, Fire Chief Tom O’Brien and Trustee Bryan Newell.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.