YOUNGSTOWN - City Council is expected this week to approve the solicitation of bids to build a new fire station.
Fire Chief John O'Neill wants to build a new Station 9 to replace the existing one at the corner of Midlothian Boulevard and Sheridan Road.
Officials have been trying to replace the old station for years. It was built in 1923 and housed a library for a year before the fire department moved in. The basement ceiling is shored up with timber and there is a rodent problem, O'Neill said.
The doors are so narrow that the mirrors on the fire engine have to be taken in so the engine can be parked inside.
The new station will be further up Midlothian Boulevard at Ipes Field in the ward of Seventh Ward Councilman John Swierz, who is also a member of council's Safety Committee and a former firefighter. O'Neill said the new location is more central to the district it will cover.
Swierz said the concrete at the existing station cannot support the weight of a modern fire engine and is crumbling.
''We can't fix that,'' Swierz said.
The station will be moved a little west of its present location, which Swierz said was the result of an insurance underwriter's group that recommended the move for better coverage.
The new station will cost about $780,000 and will be large enough to also house one of the department's reserve trucks, O'Neill said.
The department presently has nine stations, down from a peak of 15.
Swierz said he has been trying since 1997 to get a new station in the area.
''I'm elated for the residents in the area. We deserve this,'' Swierz said. ''It's going to provide better service to the ward.''
O'Neill said if all goes as planned this week, construction should start in June and the station will be ready in September.
The department is also buying a new ladder truck to replace a ladder truck that was purchased 22 years ago and can no longer be repaired, O'Neill said.
The truck should reach the city by December and was purchased through the state's cooperative purchasing program, O'Neill said. It will be housed at the Indianola Road fire station and the city will make payments of $89,000 a year for 10 years, O'Neill said.
Six firefighters will also be added to the department by the end of the month, O'Neill said. They will replace firefighters who have retired within the last year.