New fire department will cut response times, lower insurance rates in Route 10 corridor
PRINCE GEORGE — Seven is more than a lucky number for Prince George County residents who live in the Route 10 corridor which includes three subdivisions.
It’s the number of the new fire station now under construction with plans to be complete in April.
The station, with a total cost of $2,960,636 will not only reduce response times to residents in and around the Moody Road location, but will also reduce premiums for homeowner insurance policies, said Fire and EMS Director Brad Owens while at the site that sits not far from the River’s Edge subdivision.
The idea for a new station was generated as far back as 2007, county officials note. However, residents’ and Supervisors’ interest was rekindled in late 2012 and the project was placed in the Capital Improvements Plan.
Billy Woodruff, who lives in Jordan on the James subdivision, was part of that push as his interest for a closer station peaked when a close friend of his passed away after it took time for an ambulance to respond.
Until the new facility is up and running calls from Jordan on the James, River’s Edge and Beechwood Manor and those houses dotted throughout that area are answered by Burrowsville Volunteer Fire Department that is further down Route 10 heading toward Surry County.
Owens said the volunteer and paid staff at the new Station 7 will be able to answer calls faster.
Considering the needs of the firefighters, Burrowsville Chief John Nicol and others worked with helping develop the plan along with HBA Architecture & Interior Design Inc., whose design was approved in September 2017.
Owens said the work at the Carson station that broke ground in October of 2014 helped better prepare them for the Route 10 fire department setting needs in the design before construction even began.
Kenbridge Construction received the contract on the building for $2,342,400, and despite the wet weather, project superintendent Dale Barton said they are on schedule, and the crews, including Kenbridge Project Manager Mike Bender, worked diligently during the summer to get the roof up on the three-bay, 10,459 square foot pre-engineered metal structure.
“It’s been a challenge with the weather, but we have come along real well considering the conditions,” Barton said, who expressed the most important aspect of the project is to provide the emergency providers what they need.
The construction teams meet with Fire and EMS on site at least once a month, and Owens said there is constant emails and discussions between that time.
“We try to take into consideration that the staff is here 24 hours at a time, and they have to get up at any time even if it’s 3 o’clock in the morning, get on their gear and out the door in the apparatus in 2 minutes,” Owens said. “And even at 3 in the morning they have to be alert, coherent and prepared for an emergency situation.”
That could be anything from a serious EMS call, traffic crash or fire.
Considering that they wanted to make the living conditions somewhat comfortable to help combat the stress that comes along with being a firefighter.
Station 7 will also include a cancer risk reduction room which is dedicated to help the crews get the toxins out following a call.
It’s a high-temperature room including a stationary bike that they enter once they remove their gear. The recommendation is to get on the bicycle for about 15 minutes to help sweat out the toxins they can pick up on calls.
Also laundry facilities are included, in the facility that has six sleeping rooms that can accommodate up to 12 first responders, so they can wash their uniforms and gear on site and not bring them home. While cleaning the uniforms, Owens says it helps remove bodily fluids and any chemicals they could pick up on calls.
A kitchen and dayroom are in one area, as well as a fitness center that will include cardio equipment and some free weights.
“It’s absolutely important for Fire and EMS personnel to keep their physical strength,” Owens explained. “This way it keeps them in house and when a call comes in they can stop what they’re doing and get out on the call.”
Staffing plans once open include using crews that are currently operating out of Burrowsville, many who, Owens says, are traveling further from their homes to get to BVFD than they would to reach Station 7. Also, Owens’ office has requested two new paid crew members who would be trained firefighter medics. That request hasn’t been approved yet but was presented during a pre-budget work session.
“In everything we do and as we grow we have the goal of providing quality services through the dedication of our people while meeting the needs of the citizens,” Owens said. “Safety of our paid and volunteer staff is paramount, and we take that into consideration in how we develop programs and build or renovate new stations, and that allows us to just better serve the community.”
By Adrienne Wallace, Herald-Post Editor