HOPE — After more than four years of legal and financial tangles, the Hope Volunteer Fire Department has moved into its new firehouse.

The volunteer department provides firefighting services for the town of about 2,100 in northeastern Bartholomew County — the county’s second largest municipality after Columbus — and areas of Haw Creek Township outside the town limits.

The department’s 22 firefighters and eight cadets officially began operating out of their modern, two-floor facility Saturday at 103 Aiken St., at the intersection of South Street.

Moving the department’s firefighting equipment into the 18-room building occurred five weeks after county building inspectors issued a Jan. 5 occupancy permit.

With 9,642-square-feet of space including a full kitchen, four bathrooms, showers and training area, the new firehouse is a substantial upgrade from the volunteer department’s home of 53 years — ┬áthe 5,588-square-foot, one-time livery stable built more than a century ago.

“There’s plenty of room to move around without walking on top of each other,” deputy fire chief Chad Emmitt said, listing one contrast to the old fire station at 728 Harrison St., across from the Hope Town Hall.

For more on this story, see Wednesday’s Republic.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.