By JOE GORMAN | firstname.lastname@example.org
The crew manning the fire department’s new Station 9 on East Midlothian Boulevard reveled in the new digs Tuesday.
After just one day, firefighters said they were happy with their new station and glad to be rid of the old one on East Midlothian and Sheridan Road, plagued by rodents, a basement floor buttressed by timber, and a garage so small that sometimes the mirrors on the engine had to be pulled in to get it to fit.
“I guarantee we added years to our life with the move up here,” said firefighter Bill Palma.
City officials will cut the ribbon today on the new station, which is in front of Ipes Field within close proximity to Interstate 680. The new station is not only more modern, but has enough space to hold the engine and a reserve truck. It has spacious quarters for firefighters on duty and better storage space for their equipment.
Price tag for the new station was about $879,000. Construction began in August.
“We’re very happy,” said Capt.
Perry Harrison, who has been with the department for 20 years. “We’re real proud of it.”
Of all the hardships at the old station, it was the rats and mice, which were attracted because of an abandoned store next door with all the food left in, that the firefighters remembered the most.
“There were real big rats in the old station. And raccoons,” Harrison said.
The first crew manned the station Monday. The first call was a car fire at 8:21 p.m. Monday in the 900 block of Mabel Avenue.
Lt. Chris Brown, who drives the truck when he is on duty, said it was a strange experience when he backed it in Tuesday morning because he was used to having to squeeze it through the doors at the old station.
“I’m so used to hugging the wall, and the captain was telling me, ‘You know, you’ve got a lot of space,’” Brown said.
Harrison said the new station also has ample space inside for storage and for drying fire hoses. He said the storage space at the old station was outside, and hoses had to be dried outside also.
Even washing the engine will be easier now, because of the way the floor was slanted in the old station, Harrison said.
“If you washed the truck inside, the water would run into the living room,” Harrison said.
Getting in and out of the new station also will be easier, and not just because of the wider garage.
Brown said the old station was at an intersection with a traffic signal, and there were times when the engine could not get onto the road because traffic was backed up at the light. The new station is located several yards away from a traffic signal, so getting in and out through traffic should not be a problem.
Brown said the station is answering more calls heading west down Midlothian, so the new location gives firefighters better response time.