New fire stations to bring improvements

By Kayla Baugh Published July 9, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: William Harvey

From left, Lt. Bryon Jones, firefighter Hunter Heep and Capt. Andrew Bogan, all of the Searcy Fire Department, stand in front of construction for the new Fire Department. The station is expected to open in November.

The cities of Searcy and Cabot are both in the process of building new and improved fire stations to better serve their communities and the cities’ firefighters.

Eddie Hollis, battalion chief for the Searcy Fire Department, said the current Fire Station 2 was built in 1975.

Hollis said that while there wasn’t much growth back then on the east side of Searcy, the area has grown tremendously over the 42 years since the station was built.

“The station was not designed to house some of the bigger apparatus that we have today,” he explained. “The living quarters are about 6oo square feet. Some remodeling was done so that our tower truck could fit in the station while our Central Station was being built.”

Hollis said the station is located in a floodplain and has flooded twice.

“The last time, the station had to be remodeled for the flood damage,” he said.

Hollis said the new fire station will be at 800 Golf Course Drive and cover 8,800 square feet.

The station will include living quarters, office space, a kitchen, storage and equipment rooms, a training room, a fitness room and a four-bay apparatus room, he said.

The projected opening date is around the middle of November of this year, and Hollis said the construction is about 20 percent finished.

“We had a lot of rainout days when construction started, but the contractor is making good progress now,” he said.

The new station will feature more space and some amenities the current station doesn’t have.

“Just like anyone who has built a new home, we are very excited about having a new home,” Hollis said. “The new location will put us closer to more of our commercial and residential areas.”

Hollis said the new fire station will be funded by a 1-cent sales tax that the citizens of Searcy voted on in 2014.

“That tax was to provide needed funding for various department needs in the city of Searcy,” he said.

Hollis said the new station’s estimated cost is $1.5 million.

Philip Robinson, fire chief for the Cabot Fire Department, said the new central station in Cabot will be at 1122 S. Second St.

Robinson said the new building will be 9,264 square feet and will likely open in late 2018.

The current station is difficult to get into because of traffic, he said, and the building is also old and costly to maintain.

“It can’t be organized in an efficient, functional flow for our fire department. The firefighters have to go back and forth a lot. It’d be a lot more efficient with a different floor plan,” he said.

Robinson said the new fire station will include a safe room, separated offices, a conference room, a storage room and drive-thru bays.

“You can look around and see that the current station has holes in the walls that have been repaired. It has a cinder-block wall, an institutional look to it. The new station will offer a nice, clean, homelike atmosphere to live and work in,” Robinson said.

The city is currently evaluating options to fund the new station, and nothing has been decided at this time, he said.

The current fire station is in a building with a lot of history, he said.

Robinson said the building has been a city hall, a police station, a senior-citizen center and a jail in the past, among serving other functions.

“It has been modified and has had many uses. We’ve just reached the end of the modifications we can do,” he said.

Robinson said the new station’s estimated cost is about $2 million.

Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert said the new fire station will take priority for construction.

“The old Central Fire Station is antiquated, no longer suitable for the firefighters’ second home, and very dangerous for firetrucks to get into and out of,” Cypert said. “Plus, sometimes traffic backed up at the traffic signal nearby hinders fast exit to an emergency.”

Cypert said the new station will provide safe entry and exit for firetrucks and improve the quality of life for the firefighters, who spend a lot of time in the facility.

“The inclusion on the property, at some point, of a farmers market, a walking trail and other passive amenities will be available to the neighborhood for use. [That] could spurn redevelopment on Second Street,” he said.

Staff writer Kayla Baugh can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or kbaugh@arkansasonline.com.

None Kayla Baugh can be reached at 501-244-4307 or kbaugh@arkansasonline.com.

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