LOCKPORT – In 1960, Don “Randy” Randich stood in the new Lockport Township Fire Protection District Station 1 building as fellow firefighters dedicated it.
Fast-forward to 2017. Randich sat in the new Station 1 building, dedicated Friday, as the only living member of the first crew at the old station.
“I was a firefighter for 42 years and went through six chiefs. Back then the station was considered one of the best fire stations in the state of Illinois,” Randich said. “This [building] is unbelievable and beautiful. I came here today to meet all of my friends, like one big family.”
Chief David Skoryi, Station 1 Capt. John Batusich, district trustees, current and former firefighters, an honor guard, other officials and community members dedicated the new Station 1 building with a traditional hose and coupling ceremony Friday morning.
“I would like to thank those in the last 48 hours who helped fine tune and put the station back together for us,” Batusich said. “This is our second home. We are ready to go and ready to be back here in Station 1, in this state-of-the-art building, ready to go and service our community.”
The ceremony opened at 10 a.m. with words from Skoryi, as well as Batusich. The attendees then went outside through the new bi-fold doors for a flag-raising ceremony where the Lockport Township Firefighters Local #1544 Honor Guard placed the flags on the poles attached to the building as the crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance.
Afterward, fire chaplain the Rev. Mark Hein prayed and then trustees Paul Siegel, Henry Meader, Dave Palya, Bill Kendziora and Gordon McCluskey, as well as union President Pat Kelly and Batusich, held the fire hose for the coupling ceremony.
“I want to congratulate the board of trustees and Chief Skoryi on a job well done,” Lockport Mayor Steven Streit said, noting how the district has embraced the city's history while also looking forward toward keeping the public safe in years to come.
Skoryi said in 2010 the senior staff and board of trustees decided the building needed a remodel to address issues with the older facility. Some of the concerns brought up involved sewer lines; electrical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; the need to remodel living quarters to accommodate male and female firefighters; the lack of room for larger vehicles; asbestos; and the need for technological upgrades.
After the group met with architects, the costs reached 75 percent of a new building, and the district was advised to rebuild.
Demolition began May 25, 2016. The ambulance crew was temporarily relocated to Station 6 and the fire engine to Station 4.
Skoryi said the district wanted to make the new building look old to fit into historical downtown Lockport. Outside there are seven arches to represent the seven-arched bridge on Ninth Street, the apparatus room has bi-fold doors that replicate those found in an old firehouse, and instead of a flagpole, the flags are at an angle on the building.
Inside, it’s nothing but state-of-the-art dispatch systems with red LED lights and sign boards. The rooms are bigger, there are heated floors in the apparatus room, and there's room for larger trucks and a diesel exhaust capture system.
The original Station 1 was located in the 100 block of East 10th Street from 1897 to 1902, then it relocated to the Adelman Garage from 1902 to 1937, and to the City of Lockport Building from 1938 to 1960, when the building was moved to its current location at 828 E. Ninth St.