06/06/10 — Pikeville firefighters open their new station

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Pikeville firefighters open their new station

By Laura Collins
Published in News on June 6, 2010 1:50 AM

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The Pikeville Pleasant Grove fire engines pull into the department's new bays for the first time Saturday morning. The new facility is much larger and nicer than the old one, firefighters said.

PIKEVILLE -- With sirens blaring and lights activated, the Pikeville Pleasant Grove fire engines pulled into their new bay Saturday morning.

The engines were one of the last things to be moved from the former fire department to the new one at 110 Hooks Grove Church Road, a move that officials say was 10 years in the making.

"We didn't just spring up one day and say we want a new fire department, we've been planning for it for the last 10 years," department president Russell Robertson said. "It's not just for our needs today, it's for our needs for the next 30 years. We've planned for the future."

The new 12,000-square-foot facility has a conference room, offices, men's and women's sleeping quarters that each hold four people, handicapped-accessible restrooms, a weight room, radio/records room and a lounge.

"What we're trying to do is give the guys a reason to come down here and hang out," Robertson said.

The department also has a training/meeting room, a kitchen, a cook room for larger events and an upstairs storage area. The 7,300-square-foot bay can hold eight engines.

"You can actually fit the old fire department, the entire building, inside the new bay," Robertson said.

The bay is equipped with heating and air conditioning so it will be available to use as a shelter. It now holds three engines, a utility truck and a brush truck.

Longtime fire department volunteers were given the honor of driving the vehicles into the bay for the first time. Glenn Hartman, a 43-year member of the department, drove Engine 2; Wesley Wooten, a 35-year member, drove Engine 3; Richard Lewis, a 33-year member, drove the utility truck; Kenneth Gardner, a 32-year member, drove the brush truck; and Lee Raper, a 21-year member, drove Engine 1. They pulled into the garage following a line of the other firemen.

Wooten, the former chief, said he remembers moving into the old fire department 30 years ago.

"Back then, we thought that was all we'd ever need," Wooten said. "I'm glad this is happening."

And the reason it is happening is due largely in part to federal grants and a United States Department of Agriculture loan. The department received a $100,000 federal stimulus grant and an $85,000 USDA grant. They also received a USDA 30-year loan for a little more than $1 million. The department used about $200,000 of its own money to furnish the building and to landscape the property.

"This gives us an opportunity to grow," Robertson said. "We can hold more functions for the county. It's not just about looks, we set out to build a fire department the community can be proud of."

Chief Ken Jones, who spearheaded the project, said the move also puts the fire department closer to the center of the district and can lead to decreased response times. The 31-member volunteer fire department got about 170 calls last year, a number that increases each year.