History of the Department
Westfield Fire and Rescue history
The Westfield Fire & Rescue District (WFRD) is a volunteer organization serving Westfield Township in Medina County Ohio. The Fire Department was established in 1921 operating out of a double bay storage garage located on South Leroy Road. For years the fire department was organized through a joint effort of the Westfield Township and the Village of Westfield Center. In 2013 a District was formed to cover the unincorporated areas of the Township and services were contracted with the Village. Daytime staffing was introduced to assure coverage during the week days when the population doubles due to the Cloverleaf School District and The Westfield Insurance Company. Currently the department consists of 28 members and is located at 8975 North Leroy Road.
The current WFRD Fire Station is made up of three different levels. The original building was a three bay 3200 square foot structure built in the early 1950’s. In 1991 the front addition was added which included four bays and two small offices as well as a rear addition making up a training/meeting room. This created the existing set up of a 6800 square foot structure with emergency vehicles exiting the building from the west and south side. While the nine-foot-wide bays were adequate at the time, the newer fire trucks are much larger and wider causing the spacing between vehicles to be less than three feet. A portion of a wall had to be removed to allow room for the newest truck and another truck must pull out of the station before the officer can enter the front seat.
The ownership of the building is shared by Westfield Township and the Village of Westfield Center. The land is owned by the Village. The property lot for the department is limited to where the building sits only. The south parking lot is owned by the adjacent church which allows the department to utilize it. A few years back the lot to the north of the building was purchased for future use, however, the lots are divided by main electric utility supply lines which would prevent any structure to be added to the existing building.
The need for additional space increased which created a focus on acquiring land and planning a new station. The main goal was to provide a facility to be a safer and healthier environment for the department members and provide service to the community in the most effective and efficient way. Property was purchased at the corner of US 224 and North Leroy Road. A generous donation allowed for six acres of land to be purchased for $150,000. The property appraised for over $450,000.
A committee was formed to decide how and what to build on the property. The committee consisted of the Fire District Board, the chief and assistant chief. All meetings were advertised to invite community residents to attend and participate in the planning. The entire fire department provided input as to the wants and needs of the department and as members of the community gave that perspective also. The following was identified as wants and needs to be considered:
- Central Location – The land purchased provides this and has a quick access to the highway, the schools and response to the north and south areas of the district. This location is also ideal because 90% of the volunteer members live south of US 224 and within 1 mile allowing for a quick response to the station.
- A facility to meet the long-term needs of the fire district, with lower operational and maintenance costs
- Provide a State and Federally compliant, single level facility (ADA - American Disabilities Act, OSHA - Occupational Safety and Health Administration and NFPA - National Fire Protection Agency). The safety and health of the volunteer members are a priority to be able to serve the community. Recent studies have identified firefighters are at an increased health risk due to exposure to cancer causing agents. The current facility does not have proper exhaust systems nor adequate decontamination equipment for fire gear and personnel.
- Provide vehicle bays large enough with walking space around each vehicle for a safe and expedited response.
- Proper storage areas – Storage rooms for specific equipment such as fire gear to be isolated from truck exhaust and sunlight which can damage the fabric. Also, secure storage for EMS equipment and supplies.
An architect firm was hired, following state legislature guidelines, to produce a criterion drawing and cost estimations. Periodic meetings were advertised to invite any interested residents to attend and participate.
A bond levy was placed before voters in May 2017 for 2.1 mills for 30 years to generate enough funds to build the $4.3 million facility. This price included all land development, building construction and equipment and furnishings. The levy was defeated soundly with feed back sighting issues with the cost of the project, the location and building design. The committee continued to meet to address the issues stated. The building design was converted from a “brick and mortar” based structure to a “pre-engineered, steel” building reducing the cost to $3.2 million. The bond levy was reduced to 1.9 mills for 20 years and placed on the November 2017 ballot. The voter turnout was much better and more favorable, but the levy was again defeated.
While disappointed with the results, the need for the facility was still very present. A new committee was formed consisting of the district board, department members, and community residents willing to participate. It was decided the structure, location and cost were to remain the same and the focus would be to get the critical information out to the residents for another bond levy this May 8, 2018.
The cost of the 20-year, 1.9 Millage Levy for a Home Value of $100,000 will be $66.50 per year or $5.54 per month. The levy is based on the “taxable value” of the home which is 35% of the auditor’s appraised value. Individual information can be found at the Medina County Auditor’s website: http://www.medinacountyauditor.org/property-search.htm.
Your Life and Property matter. The Safety and Wellness of our Volunteers matter. Your Support is Needed and Greatly Appreciated.