Trish Bennett, Editor
CIRCLEVILLE – Plans are currently underway to reopen Circleville Fire Station 2 on South Court Street as a working fire station, according to Mayor Don McIlroy.
The building, which now serves as the base of operations for Box65, is expected to house equipment and a crew of firefighters and EMTs to better serve citizens on the city’s south end.
“We are reacting to a situation that has become quite serious with the Rickenbacker Intermodal doubling in size,” McIlroy said. “We have 18 railroad crossings in the city, and there is no governance on the length of those trains. At any one given time, a large train could literally block all 18 of our crossings.”
McIlroy said changes and growth in the south end, including the new connector from South Court Street to U.S. Route 23, also contributed to the decision to reopen the station that was vacated more than 10 years ago.
“It’s about safety,” McIlroy said. “That’s what’s driving all of this, the safety of all citizens of Circleville. We want to utilize that building for the benefit of our citizens.”
Chief Marc Zingarelli, Circleville Fire Department, said he was thrilled to learn of the plans to reopen Station 2, which is something he has advocated for years.
Though staffing of the fire department overall has been a challenge, he said recent hires and filling currently open full-time and part-time positions should position them to successfully operate from both locations.
In the meantime, though, the decision leaves Box65 looking for a new space to serve as its base of operations. The all-volunteer unit, which provides scene support for first responders in Pickaway and surrounding counties, has been housed at the unused Station 2 since its inception nearly six years ago.
Box65, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, began as an auxiliary unit of the Circleville Fire Department but has expanded to provide services to all area fire and law enforcement departments as needed. It has occupied Station 2 rent-free during that time and uses the facility to house its two trucks, as well as heating and cooling equipment and supplies like water, gatorade, coffee and more for use at emergency scenes.
Box65 was notified earlier this month they would need to relocate their operation because the city was “repurposing” the building, according to member Mark Adkins, but as late as Monday evening, they still had no idea how the building was being repurposed or how long they had to vacate the premises.
When learning of the plan to reopen Station 2 on Tuesday morning, Adkins said Box65 would still need to relocate and is seeking a new home for its base of operations as quickly as possible.
McIlroy said Tuesday he would like to see Box65 remain at Station 2 in some limited role, but the space and operation of the Circleville Fire Department would be the city’s top priority.
“Box65 has certainly performed admirably and has done a great job for Circleville and Pickaway County,” McIlroy said. “We will have to see how much space is needed, but we have to think about the safety and service to the citizens first.”
McIlroy said he hopes to see immediate action with Station 2 and have it in use by the Circleville Fire Department as early as July.
Anyone who might be able to help Box65 secure a new facility is urged to contact Adkins at 614-206-0773.
This article originally appeared on The Pickaway News Journal