08/18/06 — New fire station ready for move-in

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New fire station ready for move-in

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 18, 2006 1:49 PM

Members of the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services Flight should be getting settled into their new station by Sunday, officials said, a little more than two years after breaking ground on the project.

Fire Chief Tom Wade said the top-of-the-line, 42,600-square-foot facility is ready to go and that "about 90 percent" of the move is complete.

"We're hoping that everyone will be moved in by the end of the weekend," he said. "We should have all the other stuff set up by the end of the month."

The new station cost roughly $11 million, a bill paid from federal funds. Wade said the investment will certainly pay for itself many times over -- in increased capabilities, efficiency and effectiveness of the group that will be housed there.

"It is literally like night and day," he said. "It's a safer building and will allow us to be much, much more effective."

Every aspect of the facility and its capabilities have been upgraded, Wade added. The sleeping quarters are close to three times larger than those in the 1956 building. The new training room has surround-sound, stadium seating and a big-screen television, and the garage can hold up to 18 vehicles, he said.

The upgraded bedrooms, Wade added, are sure to be the biggest draw among the men and women who will call the station home. Added amenities in the sleeping quarters include flat-screen televisions and touch-screen's on the bedroom walls of each.

Wade said the equipment will not only provide a source of entertainment and release for his personnel, but also serves an important purpose for their mission.

If a firefighter is in his or her room watching television and an emergency call comes in, the system will override the channels and put the details of the emergency on the screen, telling them what the situation is, who needs to respond and how much time they have to get their gear on.

"This place is definitely state-of-the-art," Wade said.

The facility also includes central communication control centers, 4th Fighter Wing and 916th Air Refueling Wing fire protection administration and training spaces, fitness and recreation areas, kitchens, dining rooms, vehicle maintenance and parking stalls and storage space, he added.

The station will provide fire and emergency services for the entire base, including medical or structural problems, hazardous materials and threat response. It will also comply with the National Fire Protection Association standards, Wade said.

"It's going to be a truly phenomenal operation," he said. "We hope to begin emergency response from here in the next few days."

Another important aspect of the new facility is the increased ability to assist Goldsboro and Wayne County it provides, Wade added. Crews in the dispatch center will monitor local channels and personnel will be "ready to go when we get that call" from city and county officials, he said.

The completed project also included construction of a 6,800 square-foot satellite fire station, which will house five firefighters and is located at the tanker end of the airfield. Having two stations will allow Seymour firemen to meet all of the expected response times around base, Wade said.

Crews and base officials broke ground on the project in September of 2004 and work was "just about completed on schedule," he added. A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held this fall, with elected officials from across the state expected to attend.