Reading advances plan to consolidate outdated fire stations

Chief: 'The most logical move is the replacement'

READING, Pa. - Two new fire stations are planned in Reading, and in two weeks, the city is expected to approve the purchase of the last piece of property needed to make it happen.

The new modernized buildings will be better-able to house personnel and fire trucks. Firefighters said one of the locations, at Ninth and Penn streets, will also help improve coverage.

Deteriorating is how city leaders classify many of the fire stations in Reading. For years, work has been done to patch problems here and there, but Reading fire Chief William Stoudt said a more permanent solution is needed.

"The investment to update them, upgrade them to accommodate modern facilities for our personnel and the size of the apparatus these days, have changed through the years," Stoudt said. "The most logical move is the replacement of these stations."

That's why Reading City Council is expected to approve plans to buy land to build a new fire station near Ninth and Penn.

"In addition for theses stations, for the age and apparatus, it does make a move towards better coverage of the area that these companies respond to," Stoudt said.

The fire stations at Eighth and Court streets and at Plum and Franklin streets will eventually be shut down and consolidated into the new station.

As with any new project, it's being met with support and criticism. Jassie Waliea said he is all for it.

"It's a good idea," he told 69 News. "It's good for the neighborhood."

Heidi Gonzales said she fears for the safety of everyone, with fire engines pulling out on Penn Street.

"With so many people moving back and forth, I think it's going to cause a problem with the traffic, and then with the school being there," she said.

Stoudt said there's no ideal location where there won't be traffic but the spot on Penn Street will help crews faster respond in the area.

"I believe that's part of the selling point to this, as well as the city presence, and the station does provide some level of security," said Stoudt.

The station at Ninth and Marion streets will also be rebuilt, and instead of emergency medical services being centralized at Reed and Walnut streets, ambulances will be stationed around town.

The city hopes to get things going by early 2019.

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