September 26, 2007 Edition

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New WR Fire Station

Josh Murray (left) a full-time firefighter for the Walnut Ridge Fire Department and John Farmer, a volunteer fireman, move a display case in the new fire department to set up tables for a National Incident Management Services Class Tuesday evening. Fire Chief Alan Haskins said the department plans to use this room regularly for meetings and classes.
Walnut Ridge firemen are working hard to complete the alterations to their new fire station. The Walnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Department bought the building which formerly housed Cavenaugh Auto World on Highway 67B, and firemen have literally been working day and night to renovate it to suit their needs.

The building is now fully operational and is expected be completed by late October. Landscaping and some outside painting, along with the installation of flags, are expected to add finishing touches.

"Hundreds of man-hours have gone into remodeling the building," Walnut Ridge Fire Chief Alan Haskins said. "We've been working on it since the first of August. Firemen have come in after working at their regular jobs all day and then worked here till midnight many times."

The August and early September heat didn't make things easier for the men because the entire area was not yet air-conditioned. All the carpentry, painting, hauling, lifting and moving have been done by the firemen, said Haskins.

The new station has six bays for trucks and currently houses three trucks and the HazMat trailer. The bay area contains 8,000 square feet, according to Haskins. "Our goal now is to get a ladder truck within the next year," Haskins said. He estimated that the front section of the building adds approximately 3,000 more square feet.

In the front of the building, firemen have added sleeping quarters, showers, a bathroom, a whole new kitchen, training room, dispatch office, TV room, exercise room and a utility room, complete with a washer and dryer. There are offices for Chief Haskins, Captain Wes Lillard, Lieutenant Mark VanBrook, Walnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Department President Ryan Jones and Captain Chris Jones.

The fire department is also adding an emergency diesel powered generator, which would be used in case of a natural disaster. The fire department is the backup system for the Lawrence County Communications Center.

"We bought everything for the station locally if we possibly could," Haskins said. "Flippo Heat and Air Conditioning installed our air conditioning. Carpet World did our carpet and flooring, our furniture came from Cole's Furniture and all paint, lumber and building supplies came from Barton's. Kitchen appliances were purchased at Furniture and Appliances Now (FAN).

"We would like to thank these businesses for everything they've done for us; some of them donated their labor and time and sold things to us at cost or at a discount, and we thank our citizens for their support," Haskins said. "Keep expecting great things from our fire department, because we're not done yet.

"I would like to personally thank all our firemen for their efforts. I'm really proud of all the work they did. We have the best fire department in the state as far as I'm concerned."

The old Fireman's Hall building is currently being torn down, and a one bay building with sleeping quarters will be left at that location, giving the fire department three stations to work from to serve the city's needs. The third station is located at the airport.

Firemen plan to hold an open house and dedication ceremony in late October, and the Walnut Ridge City Council will hold its November meeting in the new station.

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