Firefighters doubling up

By Wayne Bryan Published December 29, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.
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— Fire Station No. 1 on Caddo Street is an empty shell, but it is close quarters for Arkadelphia Fire Department firefighters at Station No. 2 on North 26th Street for the nine months as demolition of the Caddo Street station is followed by construction of a new headquarters fire station.

Fire Chief Ricky Arnold said there is enough room for everyone at Station No. 2.

“Well, kind of,” said Arnold with a laugh. “We are making room with three firefighters at a time, plus me, that makes four. We’ve moved a desk into the living room.”

The chief said the backup firetrucks that are usually stationed at both stations are stored away and both of the department’s front-line fire trucks are ready at the 26th Street station.

Arnold said the consolidation of the two stations will not noticeably change response time when the alarm sounds.

“We ran an experiment, and the difference is from 45 seconds to a minute at the speed we go,” he said. “That’s not bad at all.”

Fire Department personnel began moving out of the Caddo Street station less than a week after the Arkadelphia Board of Directors approved on Dec. 6 a $989,000 contract for construction of a new station.

City Treasurer Glen Beedle said the city had gone through the bid process twice before, trying to make the project match the budget.

“The original estimate was for $1.1 million, but the bids came in at $1.3 million and up,” he said. “We have tried to trim some things out of that, mostly cosmetic.”

Arnold said the size of the new station was reduced by 150 square feet and one office was eliminated.

“The lobby will be bigger now and will include space for a desk,” he said. “We worked with the contractor, and the cuts are mostly fixtures and doorknobs - just little stuff.”

Beedle said the contract was with Goslee Construction Co., who also built a fire station in Hot Springs.

“They met our specs and qualifications, and the board was happy and ready to move forward,” he said.

The city also reduced the costs by using city workers for some of the demolition at the old station.

“Now there is a delay for cleaning out a little asbestos that is in the floor,” Beedle said. “It is not much, but enough that it has to be removed before the building can come down.”

The Arkadelphia Fire Department has 10 full-time firefighters supplemented with what Arnold called “paid volunteers.” The city’s firefighters respond to about 150 calls a year.

Most of the calls are for kitchen fires, Arnold said.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbyran@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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