By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJanuary 19, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala -- Firefighters have to be alert and ready to jump into action at a moment's notice, and that readiness can only be as good as the facility they work out of.
Knox Army Heliport welcomed a new fire station as Chief Jeremy Evett, Fort Rucker fire chief, along with William G. Kidd, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker deputy to the commanding general, and Col. Brian E. Walsh, Fort Rucker garrison commander, cut the ribbon to officially open the facility during a ceremony Jan. 10.
Evett said the need for the new fire station arose from the deteriorating conditions at the old facility and the firefighters were in need for an upgrade to help them better serve.
"It's called a fire station, but really we call it a fire house, and it's called a fire house because these guys live there," said the fire chief. "They live there for 48 hours at a time -- sometimes 72 if there is a manpower shortage and they have to fill in.
"They really do need to have a house that meets their needs. It needs to have a kitchen, bunkrooms, they need to be able to wash their clothes and conduct their training, as well as house the equipment and the apparatus," he said. "It needs to be a structure to support all of that and protect the equipment, so it's critical."
Kidd added that the new facility allows the firefighters to provide their service to their community day in and day out, and it's because of that service that it's necessary to make sure they're taken care of properly.
"I hope that we can get facilities like this that are worthy of the hard work that you put into this every day," said the deputy to the commanding general. "Thanks to everyone who had a part in this. It was a long time coming, but we hope that it will be adequate to the needs of you (who are) serving us out here."
The new 5,678 square-foot facility consists of a day room, kitchen, training room, office, six dorm rooms, laundry room, and separate men's and women's bathrooms that include showers, according to Candy Vaughan, Directorate of Public Works chief of engineering design branch. The fire station also includes an apparatus bay that that can accommodate two fire trucks.
Design for the fire station began in 2015, and much was taken into consideration when drawing up the plans for the new facility, said Vaughan.
"We have to take into consideration the number of firefighters that will be stationed at the facility, as well as the amenities that are required for their duty hours," she said. "(DPW) officials speak with the customers, and find out what their needs and requirements and wants are -- we try to incorporate as much of that as we can within the legal limitations."
By working together, they are able to create a fire station that will help firefighters better serve their community, said Vaughan.
In addition to the opening of the new fire house, the station welcomed a new fire truck, as well, and did so with a long-standing tradition.
"This tradition stems back from the 1800s when the fire trucks weren't trucks, but horse-drawn wagons," said Evett. "To get the wagon back into the station, they would have to push the apparatus back into the bay."
All together -- firefighters, Fort Rucker senior leadership and DPW officials -- they pushed the new fire engine into its new home as the fire station was officially opened.