Hamilton’s top public safety official told City Council it’s time the city start looking to replace its police station and Lindenwald fire station.
The Laurel Avenue fire station, known as Station 26, was built in 1910 and the city now is bolstering its flooring so it can bear the weight of modern fire trucks, said Public Safety Director Scott Scrimizzi.
“They’re down there right now building the floor up and putting beams in because they thought that floor could fall in,” he said. The city also has been upgrading some stations because now there are women firefighters who need separate sleeping and bathroom facilities.
“We have two fire stations that are over 100 years old,” Scrimizzi said, noting they were not built to house 42,000-pound fire trucks. “We’re dumping a lot of money into our facilities.”
Scrimizzi said based on city fire and ambulance runs, the optimal place for a new fire station seems to be the 2200 block of South Erie Boulevard, in the area of the city’s municipal garage: “The mapping is optimum for that.”
Scrimizzi said the city’s police headquarters at 331 S. Front St., which is a former Kroger is “not really set up to be a police department.” The police department moved into that building in the mid-1970s.
He told City Council the police station and courts should be closer together.
“Both the courts and the police department are not efficient operations,” Scrimizzi said. “And they’re, quite frankly, not that safe. We have the courts uptown in a spec office building (at the city offices at 345 High St.). None of you would probably guess if I told you, but we transport between 30 and 45 people a day to court. So that means we’re picking them up at the county jail, putting them in a van and driving them to court, where we have two small holding areas — at times, there’s 15 people in a holding area — in an office building. It’s not conducive to that.”
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“I think that we really need to think about doing a full-blown assessment … and going all-in on what it would cost to get these two facilities back together,” he said. “And I think there’s some cost-savings that we could blend into that.”
The city has been rumored to be looking at areas near the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and jail, which is in the 700 block of Hanover Street.
The police headquarters has a fuel-oil generator that powers the building when electricity goes out, and, Scrimizzi said, “We’ve got to do better.”
“We’ve got to figure out a way to get this done,” he said.
With another capital cost, he said, “Someone had the brilliant idea 15 years ago,” to buy five fire trucks in the same year. “We’re paying for it now because I’ve got five front-line engines that are 15 years old. They’re not cheap, and we’re probably looking at a replacement every year for the next several years because those trucks … maintenance-wise, we’re really putting a lot of money into them.”
Scrimizzi said the city probably should buy new trucks rather than refurbishing the ones it has because it will take an engine 12 to 14 months out of service to be refurbished. The city has been refurbishing one of its eight ambulance vehicles every year in the past three-to-four years, he said.
“We’ve gone a long time and neglected a lot of things in the general fund,” he said. “Whether it’s a dump truck or a police cruiser or a fire truck. But we’re to the point now … we have to do something.”
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