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South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department station nears eighth birthday

Kate Pitts
South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department

In March, the South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department will celebrate its eighth year at the new fire station on Jackson Street.

Completely volunteer-based, the South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department is heavily involved with the surrounding community. Located at 443 North Jackson Street, South Webster, the fire station services both municipalities. 

Previously settled in a bay at South Webster’s Town Hall, in 1962 the South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department built their first official station at 81 Market Street. After over 50 years at this location, the department made the official move to the Jackson Street station in March of 2016.

The main reason for this move? Space. The need for more room was a serious issue for the fire department for years. Renovations were even made to try to accommodate this need. 

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Despite renovations in the 1980s to take the number of bays from three to six, space was still an issue as the fire department obtained more equipment over time that was larger and more modern. 

“Our trucks were stacked,” stated Scott Stewart, who has been fire chief for the past 13 years and a member of the department for 44 years. “In some places, you’d have to side-step.” 

With all the trucks and equipment, it was hard to move around inside the station. The lack of space also meant there was always one vehicle that remained outside. 

“Room was what we needed,” said firefighter Dale Bauer, who has been in the department since 1970 and has seen the station’s evolution firsthand. 

Knowing what they needed and what would improve their environment, fire department officers and many of the longtime firefighters were very involved with the planning and design of the new station.

The search for a site for the new station was an easy process. Jackson Street contained an empty lot on the corner and had wide streets. It was also relatively close as it was less than half a mile away from the Market Street station. This meant there would be very little disruption to routes they had formed on runs.

The lot was formerly the location of South Webster’s old school and was still owned by the school district, but it was offered to the South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department. Since this piece of land was empty of buildings, no demolition was required. corner location of the lot and the wide streets meant easier exits for the fire department’s trucks.

With final blueprints drafted in August of 2014, Allard Excavation and Mullins Construction were commissioned to begin the process of building a new fire station.

“They were good to work with,” stated Chief Stewart. “They gave us a lot of their time.”

The chief expressed his thanks for their hard work and dedication to the project.

Construction on the new fire station was officially over in early 2016. This station was drastically different from the Market Street station.

“Each truck has its own exit,” Chief Stewart said of the increase to 12 bays from the six available in the old station. “Our trucks aren’t stacked anymore.”

With more space, firefighters no longer had to squeeze through narrow spots. This also meant that none of their vehicles had to remain outside. 

Many big changes were made. In addition to the increase in the number of bays, there were four bathrooms compared to the former two, and there were showers in two of them. Also added were two separate meeting spaces and a more organized setup for the firefighter’s gear. 

“You couldn’t see who all was there,” Bauer remarked of the Market Street station’s gear setup. “Now it’s all in a clear line.” 

Since moving, the South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department has reported no issues with their station and only satisfaction. 

Another benefit included at the new station is a full parking lot. At the Market Street station, there was limited parking. At the Jackson Street station, firefighters no longer have to worry about where to park their personal vehicles. 

With all the additions to the designs, the South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department operates in a station much larger than their last station. The square footage of the new station is nearly 12,000, which is double the size of the Market Street station.

The South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department is held in high regard in the minds of its community. On average, the station has gone on 1,000 runs a year and operates 24 hours a day.

“I’m so pleased with this little town here, and our fire department is one of the best,” said Don Smith, a 73-year-old who has lived in the area his whole life. “I’d give them a 10 out of 10.”

Smith isn’t the only one who favors the fire department though.

“I love the fire department,” said 85-year-old John Schrek, who has lived in the area for 22 years. “They’re real good.”

Schrek went on to praise the fire department’s response to calls. 

We have a lot of community support,” Chief Stewart said. “We had a lot of people donate” to materials to furnish the new station.

After the station’s construction was completed, many community members contributed items that included couches, kitchenware, decor and more.

When it came to the cost of building a completely new station, the South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department did not take out any extra loans. By using the same tax levy the fire department had previously operated on, they were able to build the brand new station for just over $1 million.

By early 2021, the South Webster-Bloom Township Fire Department had paid off Jackson Street station in its entirety. With eight successful years at this location, it looks to be around for the foreseeable future.

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About the Contributor
Kate Pitts
Kate Pitts, Staff Writer

Kate Pitts is a 19-year-old English/humanities communication major in her sophomore year at Shawnee State University. Her goal is to be involved in journalism when she graduates. Her interests have always included reading and writing, and she likes finding out every little thing she can about something. The combination of these passions has led her to pursue a path to journalism so that she can do what she loves all of the time. 

She has many hobbies, including reading stories and watching television. Her tastes in books and television shows are eclectic, showing that she has a broad variety of interests. In high school, she was involved in both the art club and the Spanish club. In college, she is focusing on her school work and working hard to pursue her future in journalism. Originally, she thought that she wanted to be an education major, but it did not take long for her to realize that this path was not for her. 

She also loves watching YouTube commentary YouTubers. This demonstrates her interest in learning as much as possible about any subject that she is pursuing. This skill is important in a reporter because it will lend to her credibility when she gathers as much data as she can about a story as she writes it. 

Another thing that she loves to do in her free time is going with her friend to antique shops to find unique vintage items like old records. Pitts loves thrifting because she loves to find unique things that cannot be found in other stores. Her creativity and ability to spot interesting things missed by others are part of what makes her such a valuable member of the Chronicle staff.


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