Meridian Times staff writer
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP — Firefighters gathered to hear their fate and the fate of the central fire station at the Meridian Township board meeting Tuesday night.
The emotional and hard-fought battle to keep the central station open was about to come to an end.
A plan had been proposed to shut down the station and sell the property, while using a budgeted $75,000 to build a heated garage to hold one ambulance.
A motion was proposed to take the $75,000 and use it toward making repairs on the central station, rather than shutting it down.
Those on the side of closing down the station argued that it made sense economically and provided an opportunity to test response times.
Firefighters shook their head at those arguments, saying amongst themselves that it would hinder response time and their ability to properly respond to emergencies.
Citizens also came to support keeping the central fire station open.
Greg Hammond spoke to the board, expressing his concern about closing a fire station and his desire to know that Meridian has the resources available, should there be an emergency like the fire that happened the night before.
Supervisor Susan McGillicuddy asked an emotional Fire Chief Fred Cowper to address the concerns of response time brought up by the open speakers.
Chef Cowper expressed that he still believed that they would still be able to properly respond in emergencies and provide safety to the township with just two fire stations and the proposed EMT garage.
He also made it clear that he was an advocate of keeping a central fire station.
As the board deliberated back and forth, grumbling and groans came from the firefighters as they uneasily and impatiently waited for the council to vote on the fate of the central station.
The motion passed in a 4-3 vote.
Firefighters were all smiles after the vote, relieved that the fight to keep central station had gone their way.
“So much work went into helping the board make their decision,” said Cowper, “You saw democracy work here tonight, and I’m pleased with the result.”
The people of Meridian Township will ultimately decide the fate of the central stations in the 2012 November elections.
“It’s a good choice by the board,” said Ken Phinney, the president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1600, “Put it to the citizens and let the people decide.”