A COVID-driven project amounting to $503,000 is soon to be underway at Fire Station 1 in Solon.

Fire Chief Mark Vedder explained that the department is modernizing its sleeping quarters, taking what was once a common dormitory room and constructing separate rooms for firefighters and paramedics.

The project is being paid through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act. The city received a total of $1.1 million in this funding, which is used to offset costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Vedder said the project would not have happened without the federal funding.

“There are other reasons to do it, but COVID is the main concern at this time,” he said.

Chief Vedder continued that the current trend in fire stations is to build separate rooms. Having a common dormitory area that is a shared bedroom not only creates scheduling problems when male and female firefighters are together on shifts, but “certainly can promote illness in the one time we are not wearing masks – when we are sleeping.

“Having a common dorm creates a problem from that respect, whether it is the flu, cough or today, COVID-19 and this is an attempt” to remedy that using the CARES funding, he said.

Since the requirement for the federal funding is that it be spent by year’s end, this project will get started following an aggressive design and building schedule. Work will be performed by Regency Construction.

Built in 1991 at 5595 Harper Road, Fire Station 1 will follow suit with Station 2 and Station 3 in being renovated. The individual rooms, which are expected to number six or seven, will consist of a bed and a locker area.

Fire Station 1 houses typically four firefighters who are on duty at one time as well as the department’s administration and fire prevention bureau.

Chief Vedder noted that this project is not just putting up walls, but instead is a “major renovation” complete with HVAC, electrical and plumbing and fire alarms.

“This is something we have desired to do but didn’t have capital funding for it, so the CARES Act is making this possible,” Chief Vedder said. “It will be an important improvement for the station and the department, but wouldn’t be possible without this federal funding.”

Chief Vedder said that COVID continues to affect public safety, noting area departments like Maple Heights which had an entire shift exposed.

“The problem isn’t going away,” he said.

For the last decade, Sue Reid has covered the government, business climate and residents of Solon. A Times reporter for 22 years, Ms. Reid has earned commendations from the Ohio Newspaper Association and Cleveland Press Association.

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