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Combustion Construction: Fire station to be renovated

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$425,000 construction in store for Oxford Fire Department in next six months

By Devon Shuman, For The Miami Student

The Miami University campus will not be the only Oxford location under construction in the upcoming months. The Oxford Fire Department is set to undergo some much needed renovations throughout the next half-year.

According to Vice Chair of the Oxford Planning Commission Richard Keebler, the two-story addition will add living quarters to the firehouse located at 217 S. Elm St. This will include beds, bathrooms, a kitchen facility and additional space for meeting and storage.

Keebler, who served 35 years at the Oxford Fire Department, including 30 years as Assistant Chief, explained the additions are necessary now the department has full time workers.

"When the station was built in 1963, it was all volunteers. Nobody lived there," Keebler said. "Starting four or five years ago, people started working around the clock, so the station needs more space."

In addition to the living quarters, the two-story addition will include other facilities such as a locker room for turnout gear and a new training room. According to the City of Oxford website, this accounts for "approximately 2,100 square feet of additional needed facilities."

Fire Chief John Detherage agreed the expansion is necessary now there are firemen working all day and night.

"Right now, the training and living quarters are all in one room, so the addition creates separate facilities," Detherage said.

Oxford Service Director Michael Dreisbach explained that the construction will be completed by JK Custom Homes LLC and should begin very shortly.

"The building permits have been approved," Dreisbach said. "We will start laying out construction this week."

Dreisbach explained the construction should be completed within about six months.

In addition to the new training and living facilities, the renovations will include another important addition.

"We will also be putting a fire suppression system throughout the entire building as part of the project," Dreisbach said.

This suppression system, otherwise known as a sprinkler system, will protect the firehouse itself from fires.

Keebler explained the sprinkler system is an important addition, considering a fire destroyed a volunteer fire department in Mount Eden, Kentucky in early August of this year. In addition to burning the firehouse to the ground, the Kentucky blaze claimed four fire trucks as well as gear and equipment and accounted for well over one million dollars in damages, according to WDRB News.

The addition of the fire suppression system will increase the total cost of the project.

Dreisbach said that the city will be spending about $425,000 on the renovations.

This breaks down to $350,000 for the main building construction, $38,000 for the sprinkler system, and an additional $37,000 for an alternate option for a full basement which would be used for storage.

However, despite the cost, Keebler believes the renovations will be beneficial not only for the fire department, but also for the Oxford community and Miami students as the improved living conditions will help the firemen be better prepared to respond to calls.

"I think that it has been a tremendous asset to have people on duty 24 hours a day and seven days a week," he said. "I think that it is important that they have better living facilities."