By Bob Rakow
Chicago Ridge’s long-shuttered Lombard Avenue fire station is expected to reopen by the end of March.
Fire Chief George Sheets told trustees Tuesday night that significant progress is being made on the rehabilitation of the firehouse, 10658 Lombard Ave.
New interior doors have been installed, and a vehicle exhaust system will be added to the station as well. The system allows fire apparatus to run inside the station while exhaust fumes are directed outside.
The system as well as new furniture was paid for by a $20,000 donation made by the firefighters union.
“I can’t wait to cut that ribbon,” said Mayor Chuck Tokar, who asked Sheets if the station would be ready for a March 21 grand opening.
“Things are moving very well. It’s absolutely looking fantastic,” Sheets said. “I think we can open up by that date.”
Sheets added that fire department lieutenants are interviewing applicants for the part-time positions that will help staff the Lombard station.
The lieutenants will make hiring recommendations to Sheets, who will make the final staffing decisions.
“We have received a number of applications,” Sheets said.
Plans call for the station to be staffed at all times by two full-time firefighter/paramedics along with a yet to be determined number of part timers, who also must be certified as paramedics, Sheets said.
A fire engine currently housed at Station 2, 10063 Virginia Ave., will move to the Lombard station, and a newly purchased quintuple combination pumper, or quint, will be based out of Station 2, Sheets said.
The quint is expected to arrive in Chicago Ridge on March 15 before being sent to St. Joseph, Ind., where it will be striped and have department logos and numerals affixed. It will return to the village in late March ready for service, Sheets said.
Re-opening the Lombard Station has been a goal of Tokar’s, who maintained that a second fire station would improve fire and ambulance response times for a large section of the village east of Ridgeland Avenue.
Additionally, he said, residents would benefit from a Chicago Ridge-based paramedic services, which are free.
The final hurdle for reopening station was cleared in January when the village and firefighters union approved an agreement to add part-time firefighters to the department—a move the union opposed last year during contract negotiations.