SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend Fire Department Station 9 held a ceremony Monday to officially open serving the city's east side.
There is plenty that's new. One addition: The city moved an ambulance to the location; the original Station 9 only had a firetruck. The fire department relocated its River Rescue Unit to the station, as well, for quicker access to nearby boat ramps.
Station 9 is designed to help keep firefighters healthy with decontamination gear that will keep toxins out of the living quarters.
"This building is going a long way toward fighting exposure to toxins and fighting cancer risk for firefighters," Mayor Pete Buttigieg said.
The original Station 9 was built in 1926 with not a lot of space and not made to accommodate female firefighters. Men and women have separate sleeping areas in the new No. 9. The new building also has a bigger kitchen and dining area, along with more beds and bathrooms.
"This has been a lot of years coming," Fire Chief Stephen Cox says. "We built this out to more look like a home."
The city has been working for decades to get a new station. In recent years, city representatives battled with residents over the location.
Many River Park residents and businesses were not happy with the first choice: Pottawatomi Park.
"They wanted to take over some of the park and some other places like that, and that's green space, and you don't want to see that happen. We don't want to give up our green space. This [current spot] is just ideal," said resident Dick Selle, whose family is from the River Park neighborhood.
Station 9 sits at East Mishawaka Rd and 21st Street, right across from the park.
The site opening Monday was the result of city leaders working with the community, taking input,and making decisions on how SBFD can best serve the east side.
"This is a great example of what can be achieved by the community by all working together," Cox said.