New Ohio city fire station to speed response times

A new fire station will be opened in the hopes of remedying response time problems in Columbus' Far East Side


Jim Woods
The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Division of Fire's resources became strained on the Far East Side as the city expanded eastward with new development starting in the late 1990s.

The long-awaited remedy will arrive in early January with the opening of the division's newest facility: Station 35 at 711 N. Waggoner Road.

Columbus Fire Station No. 35 at 711 N. Waggoner Road on the Far East Side is scheduled to open in early January. (Photo/Columbus Division of Fire)
Columbus Fire Station No. 35 at 711 N. Waggoner Road on the Far East Side is scheduled to open in early January. (Photo/Columbus Division of Fire)

"We are estimating over 9,000 people will see a direct impact of reduced response times," said Battalion Chief Steve Martin.

City residents now depend on firefighters coming to North Waggoner from Station 5 at 211 McNaughten Road 3.7 miles away via East Broad Street. Many times, fire and paramedic units have to contend with congested traffic on East Broad Street, particularly during the morning and evening rush hours.

Response times to many of the city's Far East Side neighborhoods off Waggoner Road now average 8 minutes, according to Columbus Fire. That is significantly slower than the citywide average of 5 minutes, 30 seconds, and every second can count.

Columbus Fire has leaned on mutual aid from Jefferson Township because the township's firefighters could respond quicker from their station about 2 miles away at Reynoldsburg-New Albany and Havens Corners roads. Truro Township — which covers Reynoldsburg — also provides mutual aid to the Far East Side.

"We'll be right on top of it now," said Columbus Assistant Chief Richard Ballard. "We will be picking up some of their runs because we will be closer to their areas."

It had been hoped that the new station would open in mid-December, but construction issues have postponed the debut, Ballard said.

Residents also could see a financial benefit from the new firehouse through lower home insurance rates, although the effect is not yet definitive, said Dean Fadel, president of the Ohio Insurance Institute.

Ohio's insurance market is competitive, and if it is calculated that risk is decreased and fire response will be closer with the new station, consumers should reap the savings, Fadel said.

Martin said that residents who live in older East Side neighborhoods will see a secondary benefit from the new station. There were times that the overload on Station 5 meant that firefighters from Station 23 at 4451 E. Livingston Ave., near Hamilton Road, were called on to respond.

"The new station will allow our people to stay in their districts more, which serves everyone," Martin said.

Years ago, city officials recognized that they needed a new station farther east to better serve new residents there. Ballard said the original plan was to build the station in 2007. However, the nation's economic recession that began in December of that year delayed the execution of that plan.

The project's cost also has escalated: The new firehouse will cost $11.5 million, up from the original $9 million estimate.

One benefit from the later development of the new firehouse is improved safety features for firefighters. Station 35 will be the first in Columbus to have a transitional space where firefighters can take off their gear after fighting a fire. That will help curb the transmission of potential carcinogens, Ballard said.

A new Station 16 for the Linden area, which is in the initial stages of construction, will have the same type of space.

Firefighters are at least 14% more likely than the public to develop cancer, according to a 2017 series by The Dispatch. Firefighters are also twice as likely to contract skin and testicular cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure, according to a 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

"It will reduce cross-contamination from clothes, skin and fire clothing," Ballard said.

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©2019 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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