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Group protests closure of Youngstown Fire Station No. 7

“A fire station is more than a building,” said the Rev. Joseph Boyd. “It is a commitment to a neighborhood."
YOUNGSTOWN — Mona DiSchiavo lives on Youngstown’s West Side, but Fire Sation No. 7 on the North Side is important to her because it’s right next to her mother’s house. 

“She lives alone,” said DiSchiavo. “I know it needs a lot of work, but it still needs to be kept open.”

DiSchiavo was one of the three dozen community members who gathered for the rally to protest the city's decision to close Station No. 7. The station, which was built in 1903, is the city's busiest and serves the North Side and Youngstown State University campus.

The group attending the rally met Saturday afternoon at 208 Broadway Ave., the site of a fire less than two weeks ago. Robert Pilolli had purchased the house from the city of Youngstown and was in the process of rehabilitating it. 

“The excuses they’re giving us for closing the station down are just not acceptable,” said Pilolli, standing in front of the damaged old house.

City officials’ arguments have ranged from the station’s age to the fact that the building lacks separate restrooms for women firefighters. 

Lt. Courtney Kelly, one of Station No. 7’s firefighters, was present, too. She was also one of the nine firefighters who had been demoted when Fre Chief Barry Finley closed down one of the city’s fire trucks last year as a cost-cutting measure. 

“I just think seconds matter, and it shouldn’t be about money,” Kelly said. She was referring to response times, which she fears will increase as a result of the closure. Opponents of the city's decision agree that the city should keep the station open until a new building is constructed. 

Kelly and other members of the community marched from 208 Broadway to the station at the intersection of Elm Street and Madison Avenue, chanting "The fire, the fire, don't let it go no higher!" and "Save Station 7!"

Once the protesters reached the station, multiple community members spoke, including the Rev. Joseph Boyd, a pastor at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown. 

“A fire station is more than a building,” said Boyd. “It is a commitment to a neighborhood."

Jess Hardin

About the Author: Jess Hardin

Jess Hardin is a reporter for Mahoning Matters. She grew up in Pittsburgh and last worked at The Vindicator. Jess graduated from Georgetown University.
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