The Russell Township Board of Trustees last week took steps to determine the future of the old fire station on Chillicothe Road.

Trustees Gary Gabram, Jim Mueller and Chariwoman Kristina Port unanimously voted to hire a structural engineering firm to conduct tests to determine the stability of the 69-year-old structure and to ensure employee safety in the event the building needs to be entered.

“What we need to do is make sure our employees are safe,” Mr. Gabram said during the July 8 meeting. Although the building was looked at by Geauga County Chief Building Official Dan Spada, trustees said they wanted more tests done on the structure.

The building currently is being used to store equipment, such as winter salting supplies, a snowplow and another vehicle.

“I think there are two steps,” Mr. Mueller said in a proposal to examine the building. “The first step would be to pass a resolution stating that we want to hire someone and then pass a resolution in hiring someone.”

While Mr. Mueller and Mr. Gabram debated between the steps, Mrs. Port declared that the issue should be figured out after the initial building examination.

“You can’t put the cart before the horse,” she stated.

Trustees have gone through more hoops in testing the fire station than they did in 2010 when the Russell Township Police Department was built, Mr. Mueller told the Times.

“My inclination is to keep that building,” he said, explaining that it is less expensive to upgrade a structure than to build new.

Trustees voted unanimously to name Berkshire-based engineering firm, Shenberger & Associates Inc., to proceed with initial tests of the 4,300-square-foot structure.

Trustees have long debated the future of the firehouse built in 1952. In the past, Mr. Mueller said the building still had value and opposed razing it.

Mr. Gabram said last year that the building has no historical value, the sewers are not connected, the electrical system doesn’t work and the structure is not sound.

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