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Westfield firefighters have a new home at Station 81

Eight bays at Station 81 allow for emergency vehicles and expanded maintenance facilities. (Photos by Amy Adams/The Reporter)

WESTFIELD, Ind. (THE REPORTER) — Last Saturday, April 20, the Westfield Fire Department (WFD) welcomed several hundred community members through the doors of Station 81 at 17001 Ditch Road.

The newest of Westfield’s three stations replaces the former space shared with the Westfield Police Department in Westfield’s Public Safety Building at 17535 Dartown Road, which was built in 1997.

Fire Chief Rob Gaylor said the WFD had outgrown the former facility, and he was proud to be able to show citizens of Westfield how their tax dollars will help the WFD serve them better.

The new 36,000 square-foot facility includes eight bays from which the WFD will run an engine, which holds 750 gallons of water plus hoses, a ladder truck, and a medic unit, as well as vehicles for the battalion chief, field resource paramedics, and a safety officer. The bays also provide more room for maintenance.

In addition, Station 81 will be the center for the WFD administration as well as providing state-of-the-art living and working space for approximately 17 firefighters a day. WFD firefighters work in 24-hour shifts from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m., with a goal of being on the road within two minutes of hearing the fire bell, whether it’s 2:30 in the afternoon or 2:30 in the morning.

“These men and women spend one-third of their adult working life together,” Gaylor said.

That’s why they call it a fire “house.”

In addition to a large day room and smaller quiet rooms, the new facility features individual sleeping dorms for firefighters rather than the more traditional bunk room. A central control box ensures that firefighters only hear alarms for calls when they are needed. More than just a convenience, this system not only promotes better sleep, but it provides better cardiac care for firefighters by avoiding unnecessary stress.

“Sleep deprivation is a very big deal when it comes to the health and safety of our firefighters,” Gaylor said.

Another health issue facing firefighters is cancer caused by encountering toxins on the job. In order to limit exposure to carcinogens, the new station utilizes air locks. Not only does the two-door air-lock system separate the eight vehicle and maintenance bays, separate rooms off the air lock allow gear to be stored and cleaned away from the firefighters’ living quarters.

Of course, the fire house boasts an industrial kitchen equipped with large pots and pans. All the firefighters pool their money at the beginning of each day, someone goes shopping, and everyone takes turns cooking for those on shift.

In addition, the new facility provides a work out room where firefighters are required to work out for an hour each day while on shift and laundry facilities which will run almost constantly. More personalized touches include a private room for nursing mothers.

“We have tried to be as forward thinking as we can be,” Gaylor said. “We have to be thinking ahead and planning ahead for the long term.”

Future plans include employing a new ladder truck in the next few months to replace the current truck, which is the oldest frontline piece.

“You can’t wait for an engine to break and then replace it,” Gaylor said. “As we grow as a city, we also have to think about when we need to add a new fire house. The population of Westfield

has exploded in the last several years, and to keep up with that growth and to respond to the calls, it’s time to add more stations and first responders. When Noblesville and Carmel were doing our call volume, they were twice our size.”

In 2023, the three current WFD stations responded to a total call volume of around 5,000 within the 56 square miles of Washington Township.

The WFD will break ground this summer on a fourth station at 191st Street and Chad Hittle Drive and on a fifth station next year in the northwest. Discussions are underway about a sixth station.

In addition to touring Station 81, guests were encouraged to help paint two symbols, the Maltese Cross and the Star of Life, which will hang on the wall inside the firehouse to remind first responders of all the people they serve and all the support they have in the community.