Meridian FD Temporary Station 'Good Enough'

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It's not perfect, but for the Meridian Township Fire Department, it certainly gets the job done.

After mold, water damage and general disrepair forced the department to move out of its central station on Clinton St., it secured a temporary space at 2100 Gaylord C. Smith Court, which it will renovate over the next three weeks to ready for service.

"Cost-wise and efficiency-wise, it will serve the purpose," said Chief Fred Cowper.

Meridian Township already owns the building and the site already has a garage, both men's and women's restrooms and a kitchen -- all things the fire department considers amenities.

But the building's greatest asset, its chief says, is its location.

"The reason we're moving here temporarily is to deliver efficient response times to our residents," Cowper said. "It puts us in the middle of the township and it gives us that adequate protection and reduces our response time."

The north and south stations are still fully functional, but Chief Cowper estimates that response times to the center of the township could suffer by up to three minutes without a more central location.

"I think we're always concerned about that, but I think we're doing the best we can," said Cowper. "It's not optimal, but as soon as we can get this building prepared we'll move in immediately and we'll start operating out of here."

Renovations still have to take place at the temporary location. Antennas and communications equipment must be installed and beds must be moved in. Once the fire department moves out, the township will use the renovated space for offices.

As for the six firefighters who worked at the now-closed central station, they're living in what they call "cramped" conditions at the north and south stations.

"It's functional but it's tight," said Lt. Matthew Walters, a 17-year veteran of the department. "This was designed to have two people and it's got five, but we're making do."

Beds and chairs have been placed wherever there's room, including one in an office behind filing cabinets.

"It's more like the adopted family," said Walters. "The adopted kids are in now and we're just kind of making do with what we've got."

Once the firefighters move into the temporary space, they will have to sit tight until the township decides what is to be done with a voter-approved plan for a new station.

More than a year after it was approved, little progress has been made. That's due to a lawsuit from residents of the Autumn Park Condominiums, which are across the street from the proposed new location.

The township is reexamining the proposal March 4.

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