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Station Location: Fire Station considers move

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - In recent weeks, The Youngstown Police Department has been re-assessing patrol routes in the city.

The idea is to keep up with a shift in the city's population. The Youngstown Fire Department is facing a similar issue, but the idea of relocating a fire station is no easy task.

With 35 square miles in the city of Youngstown, it's the job of the Fire Department to be able to cover every square inch of it in a flash.

Over the past 60 years, the number of fire stations has dwindled from 15 down to 8.

"We're at a point now in the city that is kind of critical because any single station that closes opens a very big gap between stations. We've done quite a bit of consolidation over the years. Now the gaps are starting to get significant," Youngstown Fire Chief John O'Neill Jr. says.

On average, it takes between three and four minutes for a truck to arrive on the scene of a fire.

The fear is if another station or two closes, that response time could double.

When the city gets a chance to build a new station to replace the one on Midlothian Boulevard, the challenge is basically to predict the future: Where can they put that station so that, years down the road, it will still be relevant to the city needs.

A task that's not so simple. The fewer the stations, the more crucial their location.

"Your building a station. This thing is not cheap. You cant pick it up and move it," O'Neill says.

The city's newest station will be located near Ipes Field.

The chief considers how quickly trucks can access the highway, how densely populated the neighborhoods are and how far is it from other neighboring stations.

"Some might say, 'well you don't know where you're going to be five years from now.' That might be true but even five years from now, if I could only have four stations, one of them would be right where that thing is going," he says.

For now, the chief believes the outlook for the city is stable but with each year comes unforeseen changes.

"We just kind of got to predict the future, work well with the finance department, see where they think we will be years from now, two, three and ten years from now and try to plan our city the best we can fire service wise. All you can do is stay prepared to make tough decisions in the future," O'Neill says.

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