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Brookside VFD floor collapses

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM This photo, taken from the basement of the Brookside Volunteer Fire Department looking upward, shows where the department’s garage floor has collapsed.

BROOKSIDE — The Brookside Volunteer Fire Department has hit another snag while waiting for its new facility to be constructed — a portion of the floor where the fire engine and squad are parked collapsed Wednesday evening, leaving officials searching for solutions while they wait for their new facility to be constructed.

Though the exact cause of the collapse remains uncertain at the moment, Fire Chief Allan Ketzell III believes it was only a matter of time due to the deterioration the building has undergone from flooding and wear over the years.

On Wednesday, Ketzel’s father and fellow firefighter, Allan Ketzell II, was attempting to back the fire engine into the garage; however, he was being obstructed by something that would not allow him to move any further back. When attempts to reverse failed, and then moving forward did as well, he hit the gas hard and eventually was able to pull forward out of the parking area.

The younger Ketzell said they went inside to investigate the situation once they were able to remove the fire engine. That is when they discovered a large hole in the floor leading into an old basement area of the facility that previously held the street department. The vehicle had gotten stuck inside the roughly 2-foot hold.

“The concrete gave way. The floor is 13 inches thick of concrete then plus a concrete filler in there. This building was built in 1934 so it was built as a bomb shelter and just, over the years, I don’t know what caused it to happen, but it totally collapsed into the basement,” he said.

In addition to the large hole exposing the basement area below, a crack can be seen going horizontally across the floor.

Firefighters spent the remainder of the evening removing both the vehicles, cleaning the area and searching for someplace to store them. A volunteer firefighter’s family offered up their garage to store the fire engine, and the squad is parked outside the station for the time being.

Ketzell said they are now concerned with the structural integrity of the entire facility, which not only houses the fire department but also the village offices. Now that one portion has collapsed, additional areas could follow suit, he surmised.

In the meantime, Ketzell is hoping to find a way to fix the facility’s floor, which will have to be replaced.

“It’s not what we wanted. It just kind of pushes everything faster, but we’re still at the mercy of contractors building the new building. Just like anything else, it’s hard to find a garage to put a fire engine in,” he added.

A new facility that will be located on the corner of Patterson and National roads is currently in the works. Officials are hoping to move into the new facility in the next year or so.

Ketzell said they have contacted local agencies and the village’s insurance provider along with sending letters and making phone calls to representatives asking for assistance.

“I sent letters to (U.S. Sen.) Rob Portman, (U.S. Rep.) Bill Johnson, (U.S. Sen.) Sherrod Brown, (state Sen.) Frank Hoagland, and I also sent one to Gov. Mike DeWine to see if there’s anything we can do,” he said.

He said they most likely will have to have a structural engineer come in and analyze the floor to give a recommendation on how to move forward.

“Until that happens, we really can’t do anything,” he said.

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