Doors are falling off the cabinets in the Plain Township Fire Station's kitchen and part of the countertop is bowed.

Doors are falling off the cabinets in the Plain Township Fire Station's kitchen and part of the countertop is bowed.

"A residential kitchen just doesn't hold up here," Fire Chief John Hoovler said.

The kitchen has been in use since the station opened in August 1997, and Hoovler said it needs major improvements.

He said the township invested in a commercial stove and vent hood, both of which still work well.

But the fire department has replaced almost every other appliance twice - three times, in some cases.

He said the department replaced the two dishwashers at least twice, the sink twice and the ice machine three times. He said he's lost count of the number of garbage disposals that were replaced. All were residential models.

"(The kitchen) gets heavy use," Hoovler said. "There are 10 to 11 people eating here, three meals daily."

He said he has budgeted $25,000 for the improvements but that might not be enough, depending on what gets replaced.

He said he received one preliminary estimate of $19,000 to install stainless steel counters and a stainless steel sink, commercial dishwashers and a commercial garbage disposal.

Earlier this year, Plain Township trustees recommended Hoovler form a committee to recommend kitchen improvements.

Hoovler said he chose one firefighter from each shift. Several community members also have been invited, including two members of the New Albany Women's Network.

"Community service is at the heart of the New Albany Women's Network's mission and when we think about those who dedicate their lives to serving, we think of our Plain Township Fire Department and the New Albany Police Department," said Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, chair of public relations. "For more than a decade, (the New Albany Women's Network) has held board and other meetings at the fire station and the fire personnel have always been accommodating to us.

"We are thrilled to think of ways to make their kitchen and food preparation space more accommodating for them."

Hoovler said the committee is considering replacement of appliances and cabinets and a change in design.

He said one suggestion is to take out part of an L-shaped counter and replace it with an island.

"My goal is to have this done by the October open house," he said.

Hoovler said the committee also has considered asking Bob Evans Farms, which is moving its headquarters to New Albany, to help with kitchen design.

Hoovler told trustees June 5 he would update them when the committee has recommendations.