PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The city’s oldest firehouse is officially closing after almost 70 years.
Fire Chief Tony Ardis said Station 4 and Engine 4 are scheduled for decommissioning on Thursday, Oct. 1. at 7 a.m.
Those living on the city’s southside said station 4 is apart of their community and they’re going to hate seeing it go.
On Wednesday, there were those in the area who watched the fire truck pull back into the station, after returning from a call, for what might be the last time. Jackie Moore who’s lived in the area since the 1970s said it was a tough sight to see.
“I’m going to miss them terribly,” Moore said.
The station, located at 2711 SW Jefferson St., was built in 1952. Neighbors, like Stanford Williams, said closing the city’s oldest fire station is a major loss.
“It feels like we’re going to lose a family around here,” Williams said.
Williams said he’s lived on the city’s south end for about 20 years. He said the Station 4 crew always goes above and beyond to build relationships with those in the community.
“We cook, we take them food [and] they cook, they bring us food,” Williams said. “So that’s how close we are with that fire station.”
Williams credits the station 4 crew for assisting his family over the years with their fast response time.
“It’s going to be sad to see them go,” Williams said. “They’re close, they respond really quickly and they give all they can.”
Chief Ardis said eliminating 11 firefighter positions was especially difficult at a station he’s so fond of.
“I worked at Station 4 for many many years and by far it was my favorite one and we feel like we’re abandoning them,” Ardis said.
Ardis said closing Station 4 instead of Station 20 was partly a matter of effective response force, which deals with how long it takes to get 16 firefighters to the scene of a structure fire.
He said the national standard is to get 16 firefighters to the scene within 8 minutes or less. He said currently in Station 20’s territory, it takes 13 minutes while at Station 4’s territory it takes less than 9 minutes. Ardis said closing the station with the slower time could make things worse for those in that area.
“So in looking at both of those scenarios, what we decided was we’re taking an okay situation and making it not great as opposed to taking an already really bad situation and making it that much worse,” Ardis said.
He said there will still be other stations serving Station 4’s territory, even though it may not feel the same for residents who are close with Station 4’s crew.
“Our firehouses are part of this neighborhood and I think that’s one of the reasons why citizens are upset when there’s a proposal to close one,” Ardis said.
On Wednesday evening, the station’s last three men on duty were having their final meal at the station and called the situation bittersweet. They said Station 4 was once one of the most sought out fire houses for firefighters where it turned you from a good firefighter into a great one.
Ardis said Local 50 Fire Union is currently in talks with the city to drop the unfair labor practice in exchange for keeping Station 20 through at least next March. He said the city is expected to get a grant at the start of 2021 to hopefully build a new Station 4 by next November.
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