City officials say damage to Columbus Fire Station No. 5, caused when a pickup truck plowed into the building on Sept. 8, was not as extensive as initially feared.
City engineer Kevin Stafford said a report issued last week by structural engineers who assessed the building showed there was no significant structural damage at the 40-year-old station located on North Lehmberg Road.
“The report did three things,” Stafford said Friday. “First, it assessed all the damage, determined what areas of the building were safe or unsafe to occupy and what needs to happen to repair it.”
Stafford said the main damage was to one of the two fire truck bays, the station’s water heating unit and its laundry facilities.
“My understanding is that the north truck bay, the sleeping quarters and offices are safe to occupy,” Stafford said.
The accident occurred shortly before 2 a.m. on Sept. 8 when a pickup truck crashed into the front of the station. Neither the driver of the truck nor the three firefighters in the station at the time of the crash were injured.
City public information officer Joe Dillon said no charges were filed against the driver of the truck, although it is likely the city’s insurance carrier will file a claim against the driver’s insurance carrier to recoup costs for the repairs.
Stafford said one contractor has submitted a bid for the repairs, but would not disclose the amount of the bid because another contractor has yet to submit a bid.
Stafford said the costs will be lower than it would have been had the building sustained major structural damage.
“It looks like it’s a 30-day repair if there are no supply issues,” Stafford said. “Most of the supplies are brick and cinder blocks, so there shouldn’t be any delay with those materials. The roll-up door on the bay would probably be the only thing that there might be a delay with.”
Although the building is safe to occupy, Fire Chief Martin Andrews said firefighters will continue to work out of the city’s new Fire Station No. 5, until the repairs are completed.
“I don’t want them in there while the construction crews are there. We don’t want the construction people to have to work around the firefighters and we don’t want the firefighters to have to work around the crews if there is an emergency they need to respond to,” Andrews said.
Pat Mitchell, who handles insurance issues for the city, said the city’s insurance policy has a $5,000 deductible for property damage.
“Hopefully, we’ll get the second bid from the contractor in and we can jump on the repairs pretty soon,” Stafford said. “We’re relieved that the damage wasn’t as bad as we initially feared.”
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]