Firefighters have a tradition of celebrating a grand opening by uncoupling firehose.
Sometimes, a ribbon cutting just won’t do.
In a year of changes for firefighters in Ozark, they celebrated the opening of the new $1.7 million Ozark Fire Station No. 2, which is located in the northern part of Ozark off of North 25th Street and Cabinet Drive.
Ozark Fire Protection District Board of Directors President Susie Ballard welcomed dignitaries from all over Ozark to the grand opening.
“This has been a community-based effort to get where we are today,” Ballard said. “This building that we are standing in here today is set to last us 50 years. It will serve our community and give our citizens reassurance of the services they expect, deserve and need.”
Missouri Fire Marshal J. Tim Bean attended the grand opening and presented Ozark Fire Engineer Jacy Snider with the 2020 Missouri Firefighter of the Year Award.
“Thank you for your dedication and commitment to serve Missouri and the Missouri fire service. I am encouraged to see firefighters like you who want to be the best boots on the ground and leave things better than you had it,” Bean told Snider.
On April 28, the Ozark Fire Protection District announced the hiring of Chief Jarrett Metheny, who brought more than 25 years of experience with him from Battlefield to Ozark. A little more than four months later, Metheny welcomed guests from the community into the brand new station.
Former Fire Chief Darren White and former Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Gonzales were also on hand to see the station’s official grand opening.
“A lot of what you see here is because of (White’s) hard work and the effort that he put into it,” Metheny said.
The 6,800-square foot building is one of four Ozark fire stations, and one of three stations in the 110-square mile district that are staffed round-the-clock.
The fire district broke ground on Ozark Fire Station No. 2 in May 2019. The fire district has not constructed a new fire station in 33 years. The build lasted about 300 days.
The Ozark Fire Protection District is now staffed around the clock by 33 paid firefighters tasked with covering emergencies in a 110-square mile area. They work in shifts of 48 hours on the clock followed by 96 hours off.
In 2013, inspectors discovered a significant and dangerous amount of mold growing inside the former Ozark Fire Station No. 2 on North 22nd Street. Also in 2013, voters narrowly approved a 25-cent property tax levy increase, from 38 to 63 cents per $100 assessed valuation, to fund upgrades to equipment and staffing.
The old No. 2 station closed in 2017, when the mold returned for a second time. Assistant Fire Chief Rob Crawford explained that the building had to be demolished in 2018.
“The former Fire Station No. 2 was at the corner 22nd and [State Route] CC, right next to the Rapid Robert’s,” Crawford said. “We had a mold issue come up with that, it was an uninhabitable situation for the crews.”
Firefighters temporarily struck an agreement with the Christian County Ambulance District for partial use of some space in the ambulance station on North 25th Street. They appreciated the ambulance district’s hospitality for about two years.
Rex Winslow of Ozark-based Construct served as the general contractor for the new building, which was designed by architects from Torgerson Design Partners, also of Ozark.
The Ozark Fire Protection District, founded in 1905, celebrates its 115th anniversary this year. The Ozark Fire Protection District provides comprehensive fire, emergency medical, hazardous materials and technical rescue services. Ozark firefighters respond to more than 3,400 calls for service per year.