Protecting Paradise: Ohio Township outgrows fire station

Local News

NEWBURGH, Ind. (WEHT) – The difference between life and death in Warrick County could be 10 minutes and more than a million dollars.

The third-largest township in Southwestern Indiana has fire trucks trained on a new station.

Firefighters in Ohio Township say it is long overdue. Right now, they are backed against a wall.

“It’s a little challenging to try to even get it in the station,” Capt. David Shipley said. He’s driving the ladder truck, which barely fits into a bay at the Paradise station on Old Plank Road.

With only inches to spare, you might say the walls are closing in. It’s too small, and only getting smaller as engines get bigger.

“The fire trucks are outgrowing the firehouses,” said Chad Bennett, Ohio Township Trustee. “When you outgrow your firehouse, that becomes a problem.”

Truck 62 doesn’t fit in the bay at Paradise firehouse.

For this volunteer department, the Paradise station offers more headaches than they’d like.

Shipley said an outdated station has cost them precious seconds when the sirens sound.

“You may not have the 10 minutes,” he said. “Everything is time-sensitive in our business.”

Ohio Township Fire Department is spending an estimated $1.3 million to tear this place down and start new. The department is paying cash after saving for 4 years.

The Paradise station was built in the late 1970s and as had five separate additions over the years. One such addition bumped a garage door out only a couple of feet to fit the back bumper of a fire engine inside; necessary work for little payoff.

“Each time it was kind of a band-aid fix to get us through another hurdle,” Bennett added.

A rendering of the new Paradise firehouse.

Ladder truck 62 can only station off Epworth Road near Deaconess Gateway Hospital, but it is key to fighting fires and responding to rescues all over Ohio Township.

Other trucks at Paradise are 14 years or older and will be retired sooner than later. But any new trucks the department buys likely will be too big for the current station.

The new firehouse will have bays long enough to fit a ladder truck and more.

Ohio Township has its design out for a bid, and Bennett hopes to break ground in mid-October. He is targeting an early summer opening next year.

“We have to be looking straight ahead and seeing what’s coming our way, and in our community, that’s nothing but growth,” Bennett said.

And that means more people to serve, so walls between here and there – limiting response – simply will not stand.

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This story was originally published on September 13, 2019

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