Trees have been cleared and site preparation is underway on Cheshire Road, where Delaware will build its fourth fire station.

Construction will begin this year, with its operation beginning late 2018 or early 2019, said city spokesman Lee Yoakum.

"This will be our fourth fire station and the first since Station 303 was built in 2013," he said.

The new Station 304 will be on land northwest of the roundabout intersection of Cheshire and Glenn Parkway.

The site is west of Cheshire Elementary School and within the Olentangy Local School District.

The station will provide coverage to the city's southeast quadrant, where "the city is seeing continued growth, with substantial growth expected in coming years," Yoakum said.

The new station's "design and layout will be almost a twin to Station 303 on West Central Avenue," he said.

"It will have the same footprint and very much the same look."

Fire Chief John Donahue said the new station will improve response times to the southeast.

"We are seeking a six-minute total response from the time 911 picks up the phone to arrival," he said.

Current response times from the fire stations on South Liberty Street and Pittsburgh Drive average nine to 10 minutes, he said.

Mutual aid from the nearby Berlin Township Fire Department exceeds six minutes to arrival, he said.

Donahue said when staff additions are complete and Station 304 is operational, the department will have 65 full-time and nine part-time employees.

At any given time, 15 firefighters will be on duty among the department's four stations, with three at Station 304.

"We're very excited that we're following through on our commitment on what we told residents we would do," Donahue said.

Delaware voters in 2010 increased the city's income tax by 0.3 percent to support fire services. The measure funded equipment upgrades, staffing increases and construction of Station 303, as well as the new station.

The city earlier estimated the new station's construction costs at about $4 million.

Donahue said the hiring process is ongoing.

Four new full-time employees joined the department March 21. In February, two part-timers were moved to full time. Still to be hired are nine part-time firefighters.

Yoakum said traffic will be maintained around the construction site, with temporary closures when heavy equipment is moved.

The contractor is 2K General Co., a Delaware company that also built Station 303.

The city's fire stations each have a "30" prefix, in part, to identify the city in radio transmissions, Yoakum said.

Station 301 is at 99 S. Liberty St.; Station 302 is at 683 Pittsburgh Drive near the city's industrial park.