BRYANT October was a special month for the Bryant Fire Department.
Hill Farm Fire Station No. 2 and Springhill Fire Station No. 3 moved into brand-new facilities, with Hill Farm hosting a grand-opening celebration Oct. 14 and Springhill having one on Oct. 22.
“We’re very happy with the new stations,” said Fire Chief J.P. Jordan, who was hired as the fire chief in 2012. “One company of three people, sometimes four, works each shift at each location, but we’ve built the new stations for the future. In five to 10 years, we could have two companies working at each location. Each of the three shifts works 24 hours on, 48 hours off.”
Jordan said the two fire stations had been operating out of mobile units since 2006, when the Central Station was completed at 312 Roya Lane, and firefighters began working 24-hour shifts. Hill Farm Fire Station No. 2 operated at 2224 Justus
Loop and was relocated to 1601 S. Reynolds Road, where it serves the south side of Bryant. Springhill Fire Station No. 3 operated at 200 SW Third St., next to Bryant City Hall, and was relocated to 2620 Northlake Road, where it serves the north side of Bryant and the Springhill Fire Protection District. Station 1, or the central station, serves as headquarters.
Jordan said Bryant residents approved a bond refinancing in 2016 that allowed the city to redirect $23 million toward improvements in parks, streets and the fire department.
“It cost $5 million to build both of the new fire stations,” Jordan said. “The floor plans are identical. … They just look different from the outside. The one at Hill Farm looks likes a big red barn, and the other, at Springhill, looks like it belongs in the residential area.”
The fire stations were designed by Black Corley Owens + Hughes Architects of Benton, with Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock acting as the construction management firm.
“Each building has 8,500 square feet, heated and cooled,” Jordan said.
“Each has two pull-through bays on one side of the building, with a designated laundry room housing an extractor … a big-time washer … for washing their turnout gear (the protective clothing firefighters wear),” he said.
“This is the ‘dirty side’ of the house,” he said, smiling. “They can clean up here before going to the other side of the house. They live here 24 hours a day. … They need to keep the house as clean as they can.
“There is more and more concern about cancer and other diseases in firefighters. Firefighters are exposed to all kinds of things. We now have better exhaust systems in the fire stations and on our trucks.”
Jordan said the other side of the building features a common area with a kitchen, dining room and living room, five bedrooms with floor space for three beds in each room, five restrooms, a tool room, an exercise room, office space and a lobby.
Jordan said ground was broken on both fire stations in January, and they were completed in about 10 months.
During a recent visit to the Springhill station, members of C shift (the third shift) showed visitors around their new firehouse.
Lt. Randy Harmon has been with the Fire Department for nine years, serving at headquarters before moving to Station No. 3.
“I’m in charge here today,” he said.
“It’s nice to have your own bed in your own bedroom,” Harmon said.
Chance Clifton has worked with the fire department for six months. He also works with the Salem Volunteer Fire Department.
“It’s nice not to have a hot rack,” Clifton said laughing, referring to the situation at the mobile station that had three beds for a rotation of nine firefighters, meaning that after each shift, the firefighter had to strip the sheets for the next person to use. “It makes life better.”
The Springhill station is near Springhill Elementary School.
“We have a good relationship with the school,” Jordan said.
A visit to the Hill Farm Station found three members of C shift on duty — Clay Heslep, Zac Robinson and Lt. Kevin Smith.
“I love the new station. It’s a major step up,” Robinson said.
“It’s like night and day,” said Smith, who has been with the Fire Department 15 years, comparing the old station to the new station.
“We’ve made a few runs to the school … Hill Farm Elementary School,” Smith said. “The new Bryant Junior High School is being built right behind the fire station, and we are also near the Saline County Municipal Airport. We are in a really good location.”
The Bryant Fire Department was established in October 1972 as the Bryant Volunteer Fire Department and has grown over the years to what it is today. Once a part-time operation, it now has the highest fire-protection classification issued by the Insurance Service Office — ISO 1.
“We currently have 49 personnel working in the three stations,” Jordan said. “We purchase a piece of new equipment about every five years. We are anticipating continued growth for Bryant. These two new fire stations are very much deserved and will help us continue to grow with the city.”