Delaware County's Tri-Township Fire Station: Planned move due to Point widening project

Paul Comstock
ThisWeek
Tri-Township Fire Station firefighter Miles Bilikam does a routine check on a pumper truck Jan. 21 at the station, 495 Sunbury Road.  The fire station will move less than a mile east to a site off Bowtown Road.

The Tri-Township Fire Station, which has sat at 495 Sunbury Road since 1957, is going to move.

It won't travel far, though. 

The Delaware County commissioners on Dec. 21 approved a quitclaim deed transfer of 2.2 acres to the Tri-Township Board of Fire District Trustees. The Brown Township site will be the county's Byxbe Campus, at the former Delaware Area Career Center at 1610 state Route 521. 

The new station's site is just off Bowtown Road, less than a mile to the east of the current station.

Tri-Township Fire Station Chief Troy Morris said the move is motivated largely by the city of Delaware's plan to widen the "Point" intersection of East William Street and East Central Avenue to four lanes under a railroad bridge. The fire station sits adjacent to the Point.

"They've got to relocate the tracks so they can take the old bridge out and put a new bridge in its place,” Morris said. “Well, our building is sitting in the way. The way that they've come up with their engineering, we're sitting there, and we're blocking the progress."

Delaware City Manager Tom Homan earlier said construction at the Point isn't expected to begin until late 2022 or 2023.

 The Ohio Department of Transportation is expected to need all of 2021 to obtain the rights of way and easements needed for the project, Homan said. 

Despite that timeline, "we have a pretty aggressive schedule," Morris said.

"We hope to be breaking ground in April and construction done by December this year," he said, adding the goal is to have the new station completed when Point construction begins.

Another factor is that Tri-Township is outgrowing the station, Morris said.

"We'd been discussing this anyway. The current station there at the Point was built in '57,” he said. “It's not designed for what we currently have. We're using the building out behind it, as some of our equipment is sitting out there. So that's creating an issue.

“The idea is get one big building. And then meeting with the county and discussing with them and doing some agreements with them, we've got ourselves some land on the south side of the old campus. We should be in good shape to build something."

As part of the overall plan, the new station will have space to house a Delaware County EMS unit in the future, Morris said.

Although Tri-Township is a first responder, it relies on county EMS ambulances to transfer patients, he said.

"We've got an agreement in place so that if in time they need to put a medic there, we'll provide them some space, bunk space and things like that. So that way they can use part of the facility," Morris said.

During the Jan. 14 Delaware County commissioners meeting, commissioner Jeff Benton said being able to provide a site for Tri-Township is a nice plus for the Byxbe Campus.

County facilities director Jon Melvin told commissioners Tri-Township was "interested in being on Bowtown Road.”

“So there's 2 acres just west of the current drive going off Bowtown that worked out nicely,” he said. “It'll be a nice partnership out there."

Morris said the county is providing the site without any money being exchanged.

"It's all based on us designing that building so a medic could possibly be in there at some point,” he said. “Plus we're putting a training room in for them to be able to use. It benefits both parties. They won't have to build a freestanding building for a medic, and it gets us the dirt that we need."

 Also on Jan. 14, Melvin told the commissioners work on the Byxbe Campus will wrap up in 2022. The 63.6-acre site will be a centralized location for a number of county departments.

Melvin said they include the county engineer, the sanitary engineer, the code-compliance office, the regional planning commission, the county sheriff's administration offices, the soil and water conservation district and the Ohio State University extension offices.

Tri-Township serves Delaware, Brown and Troy townships. In addition to the chief, it has four full-time employees: three captains and a 40-hour-a-week firefighter. The department also has 25 part-time/volunteer members who work shifts and respond when the department has a call, Morris said.

He said the department has two engines, two tankers (each carrying 2,000 gallons of water), two grass trucks, a utility pickup, a hazardous-materials response trailer, a water rescue-response trailer, a utility terrain vehicle and a light tower.

"Our run volume last year was down from previous years. We finished with 389 calls for service, with 2019 having 472 and 2018 having 433,” Morris said. This is a quick breakdown of highest percentage calls. The remainder would be alarms, service calls, noninjury crashes and other nonemergency calls. The fires include structures, vehicles and grass or field fires."

In 2010, the department opened a second station at 660 Coover Road.

Morris said the station was opened because of congestion at the Point intersection and the number of incidents along U.S. Route 23 and to improve response times to the northwest portion of Troy Township.

When the department was created in 1948, it included five townships. Berlin and Liberty townships were included and now are covered by other departments, Morris said. A trustee from each of the three townships now serves on the fire board, he said. 

The Sunbury Road station originally was designed to house the fire chief and his family, which it had done until 1990, Morris said.

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