Northfield Center — The Northfield Center Fire Substation closed at 11 a.m. Sept. 19 due to biohazards and vandalism, according to Macedonia Fire Chief Tim Black.
He said Macedonia firefighters found urine in and on turnout gear, on the mattresses and floor in the fire station.
“It was so bad, I couldn’t even tell where (the odor) was coming from,” Black said.
Summit County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the scene and are investigating.
Black said the incident happened some time in the morning on Sept. 19, and he declined to comment on the circumstances regarding its discovery due to the ongoing investigation.
Macedonia firefighters began manning the station Sept. 16 after the Northfield Center-Sagamore Hills Fire District disbanded Sept. 14. Sagamore Hills Township forced the district to close after agreeing to contract with Macedonia for fire service earlier this year — a move that started heated debate about the fate of fire service in Northfield Center.
Voters in August turned down a 6-mill levy meant to resurrect the Northfield Center Fire Department, and Northfield Center Trustees agreed to contract with Macedonia as well.
Black said he has had evidence that ill feelings remain about the change.
“Since last week we had been getting notes and derogatory comments about me, about my firefighters, personal comments, real eighth-grade stuff,” Black said. “But when it rises to people urinating inside turnout gear, it became a biohazard and that’s why police are involved.”
He said he isn’t sure how those responsible for the vandalism gained access to the station, but he did say the locks would be changed.
He estimates turnout gear will cost $2,000 per firefighter to replace, but did not have number of sets that would need to be replaced. He said mattresses and carpet will also have to be replaced.
Black said the Route 82 station is now unmanned and will remain so until the soiled items can be replaced. Northfield Center Township emergency calls will be answered by additional staff at the Sagamore Hills substation.
Black said there have been no problems at the new substation in Sagamore Hills.
Northfield Center Trustee Paul Buescher said the only way to describe the situation is “absolutely disgusting,” adding he believes felony charges would be warranted, but did not say what the specific charges would be.
“This is not some little incident to be swept under the rug,” he said.
Buescher said the township will have to pay to replace everything that was destroyed, though he did not have a figure as to what it would cost yet.
He added if the parties responsible are found, he hopes the cost will come out of their pocket.
“It’s not like a lack of DNA was left behind,” Buescher said.
Briana Barker: 330-541-9432