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Harrison firehouse expansion not dead yet

The Harrison County Council recently turned down a funding request that would allow Harrison Township to expand its fire station, but the project hasn’t been scrapped yet.
Harrison Township Trustee Cecil Trobaugh said yesterday he isn’t positive where they would turn now, but they were discussing the possibility of starting over.
‘Primarily for me, it’s about done,’ Trobaugh said of his work on the project. ‘I don’t know where to turn next.’
Trobaugh said the only avenue he sees for raising the funds needed to expand is for the Harrison Township Fire Dept. to get the Harrison County Fire Chiefs’ Association’s approval and then request the funding again from the commissioners and council.
‘The commissioners have already said they would give us the $200,000 and the chiefs their $500,000, so I don’t know why they wouldn’t support it,’ Trobaugh said.
However, Trobaugh said he had not discussed the funding shortfall yet with members of the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Dept.
Trobaugh’s plans included a 50- by 55-square-foot addition to the current fire house in Harrison Township. If built, it would be a major step toward providing some full-time paid firefighters.
The $680,000 addition to the Harrison Township Fire Station would include sleeping quarters for full-time firefighters, showers and an exercise area.
The sleeping quarters would accommodate up to nine firefighters, although Trobaugh said he plans on hiring only six or seven full-time. Trobaugh said having full-time firefighters would improve their ISO rating which could help lower home owners’ insurance rates.
The estimated costs of those firefighters is from $300,000 to $400,000 each year. Trobaugh said previously that he hoped to have full-time firefighters in Harrison Township in three years. The present fire station is set to be paid off this year.
Trobaugh first made a $300,000 request last July. He repeated that request in September, December and February before the commissioners approved $200,000 last month. The council denied the funding request 4-2 last week.
Many council members did not approve of the commissioners sending the request to the council when Trobaugh did not seek approval from the fire chiefs’ association first, something the commissioners had requested in the past of the fire departments.
Trobaugh has previously said as trustee he is responsible for providing fire protection and is not a member of the chiefs’ association since he is not a firefighter.
Rick Kerr, president of the fire chiefs’ association, said yesterday if the Harrison Township fire station expansion came before the association, it would have to be approved by all nine departments, so he could not speak for all them.
‘I would certainly welcome Harrison Township to bring the proposal to the fire chiefs’ association,’ Kerr said, adding he was sure there would be several questions for Harrison’s officials but they could work from there.
‘To me, there is no guarantee of funds,’ Kerr said of the $500,000 commonly cited by officials as the amount set aside for firefighters.
Kerr said he believes even though the fire chiefs were not elected public officials, they were still responsible for spending money in a way that would benefit everyone.
‘We’re still figure heads in our communities,’ Kerr said. ‘We still have the same principle.’
Kerr said the fire chiefs had already discussed requesting funds for a new fire station in Boone Township and also personal equipment to improve the safety of all the firefighters.
However, Kerr said the fire chiefs were always open to discuss any proposal and would be willing to work with Harrison Township on their proposal to expand their fire station.