Madison Township residents got their first look Aug. 25 inside the new fire station now serving the northern part of the township.
Township trustees, fire Chief Jeff Fasone and others welcomed residents to an open house at Station 183, a $3.8 million 11,000-square-foot facility at 3228 Noe-Bixby Road that can accommodate a medic and an engine truck.
Currently, a medic is providing service, with nine members of the 50-member department covering operations in three shifts.
"It was a lot of work, and there were some bumps in the road, but we covered those," trustee Ed Dildine Sr. said. "We have a lot of people here today who helped make it a reality."
Crews demolished an old apartment building at the location to make way for the new station -- the township's third. The others are Station 181 at 4567 Firehouse Lane in Groveport and Station 182 at 6600 Gender Road in Canal Winchester.
The township got the land on Noe-Bixby Road, in a unique residential setting, at no cost as part of the Franklin County Land Bank program.
Township voters approved a 5.25-mill operating levy in May 2015 to help pay for a third firehouse and get a third medic in service.
The township borrowed about $2.5 million to pay for the station and paid back $1 million last year.
Former fire chief Robert Bates, who retired in January, led the planning stages, which included plenty of debate during an election year.
Trustees' Chairman John Kershner, who voiced concerns about the size and expense of the project, voted against the design-build agreement for the facility with Turner Construction Co. in July 2017. Dildine and former trustee Victor Paini, who did not seek re-election, favored the agreement.
Trustee John Pritchard was elected to succeed Paini last November.
"It's been a process, and we're still learning from it," Kershner said. "But I'm happy that it's here and we're able to get better response times to the residents."
Crews broke ground for the building last summer, but fire department personnel didn't begin 24-hour operations until this past June because the public address system had yet to be installed.
Most of the station's furnishings were donated, Fasone said. Many items were free from state surplus, specifically the Ohio Department of Public Safety, he said.
Fasone said La-Z-Boy, which has a warehouse in Grove City, donated recliners and Saddle Creek Logistics Services, a distributer for Lowe's, donated a refrigerator, dishwasher and washer and dryer.
"I can't say enough about the support we're getting for the firefighters," Fasone said.