Study examines spatial needs for BHFD

by Dan Holland

The city recently hired the Center for Public Safety of Winter Park, Fla. to conduct a spatial needs assessment for the Broadview Heights Fire Department. Recommendations from the firm, which have not yet been finalized, could include a new main fire station in the city.

Station 1, at 3591 E. Wallings Road, was built in 1963 and serves as the department headquarters. Station 2, at 9455 Broadview Road, was built in 1973.

“Our stations are 50 and 60 years old, and they’ve had nothing done to them except for painting and carpet,” explained Fire Chief Jeffrey Hajek. “They were built at a time when there wasn’t even an ambulance on a fire department, and now we have three. Because of the small size, we need a new station.”

The study will take into consideration current needs and also allows for future growth.

“They take in the size of the community – the population – and they look at what growth, either residential or commercial, is expected within the city for the next 30 years, and they try to adjust for all of that.” he continued. “Then they tell you what type of building would best suit your needs. They give you an estimated cost; it’s a very general idea.”

A tour of Station 1 revealed items stacked high on top of lockers, cabinets and shelving. Department vehicles are often parked outside due to limited space.

“We have everything stacked to the ceiling, and vehicles parked outside because there’s just no room for them inside,” said Hajek. “That’s part of the issue; when you go to respond to a call, you want to make sure you have the vehicles on the inside so that, on a [snowy] day, you’re not cleaning the vehicles off before you head to a call.”

Staffing needs and department functions have changed dramatically since the stations were built, according to Hajek.

“There’s just no room, and we have to build it for what’s coming and where we’re at, and give ourselves adequate space,” he added. “When they built these stations, there were only two fire engines and they were small pickup truck-type engines. Now they’re huge, and you have to put all the equipment on them to go anywhere. Back then, we never did HAZMAT, rope rescue, fire investigation or high-angle rescues. The fire department now handles all of those duties along with ambulance calls.”

Aside from fire stations located in East Cleveland and Parma Heights, Hajek said the city’s current stations are the oldest in the county to have never had any renovations done.

Pending city approval, The Center for Public Safety is also expected to conduct an assessment of spatial needs for the city’s police department. Stockton Reeds, a representative for the firm, suggested at the March 15 city council meeting that it may be more cost effective in the long run for the city to build a safety complex with police and fire combined, as more state and federal funding is available for communities looking to implement joint projects. ∞