South Bend Fire Department opens new firehouse

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The South Bend Fire Department invites people living on the city’s east side to tour the newly opened Fire Station 9 on Monday.

Firefighters say the brand new building will help them better serve the community.

“I think what we’ve done here is another heirloom quality building that will be in service for decades and decades and decades to come,” said Assistant Chief of Services Todd Skwarcan.

While the planning and construction of the structure, located at 2108 Mishawaka Ave. in the River Park Neighborhood, started a more than a year ago, SBFD says this is a project 20 years in the making.

Skwarcan explains a study commissioned in the late 1990s found Fire Station 9’s old location, located at 2520 E. Mishawaka Ave., to be too far east and too small.

The original building was built in 1926 and is considered a historical landmark. According to Skwarcan, that designation made it difficult for the department to make the necessary repairs and upgrades. So, with help from the city and neighbors, the department identified and purchased five properties at the corner of Mishawaka Avenue and Ironwood Drive in 2018.

That acquisition allowed the department to build the new 9,000 square foot building.

“Kids will grow up going to school, checking the time on the clock to make sure they’re not late to class at Adams or IUSB,” said Skwarcan. “We’ll have generations of people that will grow up and this will be their firehouse, so for us, it’s a proud moment.”

Fire Station 9 will house Engine 9, Medic 9, and Boat 1.

It’s the first time the River Park neighborhood will have a dedicated ambulance service.

The station also features a zone concept design in which toxins related to the job are separated from the station’s living quarters.

Skwarcan says the new location improves response times by a few seconds. Up to six first responders will work at the house each day.

“You work a 24-hour shift here on the fire department, so you spend 1/3 of your life living here,” said Skwarcan. “You sleep here, you eat here, you work here, your family visits here, you’re with your fire department family here, and it’s fully a third of your life. When you see the touches that we have in here, it’s trying to be as homey as possible, but it’s still a public commercial building, so trying to find that balance is what we try to do.”

In total, the project costs $3.6 million.

“I think it’s going to be excellent,” said neighbor Richard Scott. “It’s going to be a nice firehouse to the community and to the neighborhood. I think their service will be a lot better. It’s really big and that’s what they need. They need enough where they can stay and still work and have a good home front.”

Skwarcan says while there are no long term plans for Fire Station 9’s old building, SBFD plans to use it for various department needs until early 2020.

A hose uncoupling ceremony is happening at 10 a.m. on Monday. SBFD invites people to come and tour the building.

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