After calling the Reynoldsburg Community Center YMCA home for more than two months, some Truro Township first responders moved out June 1.
The crew moved back to cramped quarters at Station 162, 6305 E. Livingston Ave., allowing YMCA staff to prepare the space for its reopening Monday, June 8.
Fire Chief Jeff Sharps said the "out-of-the-box" idea came together over a few days, after central Ohio YMCA locations closed in March as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
As many as six firefighter/paramedics per shift were stationed at the Y, 1520 Davidson Drive, in an effort to spread out crews.
With the cooperation of the city of Reynoldsburg and the YMCA, the 75,000-square-foot center functioned as a fire station for nine weeks. Firefighters began operating from the community center March 25.
A large, white tent covered the station's fire truck and medic and crews were dispatched as normal, Sharps said. Crews slept, exercised and cooked meals at the YMCA just as they would at the firehouse.
"It has every kind of exercise equipment known to man in there and the firefighter/ paramedics really enjoyed that. It had all the amenities we needed," he said. "The staff of the Y got along so well with the firefighters, and the relationships that we formed won't stop now that we've moved out. We're looking for ways to support and continue interacting with the YMCA."
There was no additional cost to the city; the township paid the Y $500 a month to cover utilities.
The next time the crew moves, it will be into a new, 16,471-square-foot station, 6900 E. Main St.
Normally split between two stations, the township has been operating out of a single firehouse since 2018, when officials broke ground on a $3.9 million station.
Sharps said he hopes the new station will be open in July.
With three bays and living quarters for up to 11 firefighters per shift, the new space also includes a training room and more than 700 square feet of administrative offices.
Made possible by the 2016 passage of a 2.5-mill levy, the station originally was expected to open in 2019. Construction stalled early last year when the general contractor, Palmetto Construction LLC, defaulted on the project.
The Ohio Farmers Insurance Co./Westfield Group, the project's surety bonding company, took over for Palmetto. In September, Setterlin Building Co. was selected to finish construction.
According to the Ohio Department of Insurance, a surety bond "provides peace of mind to the parties requiring the bond that if a project can't be completed, the monies will be available to pay for completion."
The pandemic will prevent the department from holding a ribbon-cutting or public celebration this summer, Sharps said.
"But you can rest assure that as soon as we're able, we want the community in there," he said.
"We want to show off what their tax dollars have provided and how we're serving the community."
The department serves the township, village of Brice and Reynoldsburg and responded to 7,580 calls in 2019.