MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The city of Middletown's decades-old stations are not healthy for firefighters and lack accessibility features, according to fire officials. The department will need millions of dollars to rebuild them. On May 3, voters will decide whether to approve $16.8 million in bonds to pay for the project.
“This is a home just like anyone else out there’s home,” said Frank Baughman, president of the Middletown Firefighters Association. “We literally spent a third of our lives in these fire stations and we want the same protection that we would expect anyone else out there to want.”
Baughman said the stations don’t have fire alarm systems and lack features that protect firefighters from chemicals that can cause cancer. The stations are also not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and lack facilities for women.
“We want to be inclusive,” he said. “We want to encourage female firefighters to want to work here and right now that's a deterrent because we don't have the facilities for them.”
Middletown Division of Fire hired its only female firefighter within the last year. She currently has to share a locker room, and bedroom, with the men in the department.
The bonds would be repaid through property taxes, but Communications Manager for the City of Middletown, Missy Knight, said residents will not see a tax increase. She said that’s because the tax levy replaces another one that expired in 2021.
If approved by voters, the bonds would pay to replace all four stations.
- A new fire headquarters would be built at Yankee Road and Cherry Street on a 3.6-acre site to replace the current 1.38-acre site on Roosevelt Blvd. The estimated cost for this is around $7.16 million.
- A new location for Station No. 81 would be built at Henry Avenue and Charles Street, replacing the current building on Clinton Street. The estimated cost is just over $3 million.
- A new building for Station No. 85 would be built at Stolz Drive and Sophie Avenue, replacing the current location at Central Avenue and Breiel Boulevard. The cost would be just over $3 million.
- Station No. 82 would be rebuilt at Ohio 122 and Atrium Boulevard for just over $3.48 million. This would replace the current site on Dixie Highway.
The stations would be relocated to improve response times. Polls open Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. in both Butler and Warren counties.