CLEVELAND - Cleveland Fire Station 21 has been essentially closed for more than four years as yet another victim of city budget constraints, but some residents want that to change
There's growing concern fire station 21 should be reopened because of an explosion in the Flats East Bank development over the past three years.
East bank business owner Norm Plonski would like to see the station back up and running. The Plonski family has owned Hoopples Restaurant and Tavern in the Flats for 33 years.
"If you want to develop the Flats and pump millions of dollars down here, bring residents in and more restaurants and clubs, you must have safety down here," Plonski said. "The men of fire station 21 know the area, they know how to get around with all the bridges and roads going up and being closed."
Meanwhile, Cleveland firefighters have been putting in hours of their own to keep the fire station and the fire boat in a ready status. The Cleveland fire boat, docked in back of fire station 21, has also been placed in a so-called "brown-out" status since 2008.
Because of their effort, fire station equipment and the fire boat remain fully operational in the hope funding will soon be found to reopen the facility.
Cleveland Fire Department Public Information Officer Larry Gray commended firefighters who have kept the station cleaned and maintained.
"It just goes again to show the dedication and professionalism that we have in the fire services," Gray said. "A lot of people think we only fight fires, but our commitment is to provide safety and to do everything we can to keep our city safe."
Gray couldn't tell NewsChannel5 if or when fire station 21 would be reopened. Gray said safety is not an issue at this point, with the fire department swift water rescue boat and the U.S. Coast Guard providing ample safety coverage.
"We're satisfied and we're fulfilled to the point that we can provide the services that they need until we can make a decision," Gray said.
Still Plonski said he believes as the east bank grows so will the need for the fire station.
"You need to have that fire station opened and manned 24-7," Plonski said. "The fire boat and that station are very necessary for all the warehouses and now the new development down here."