RFD highlights facility needs at city’s fire stations

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Richmond’s older fire stations are in need of major renovations. On Tuesday night, Interim Fire Chief David Daniels went before Richmond City Council’s public safety standing committee to outline key issues facing Fire Station 21 on Jefferson Davis Highway.

According to the department, that station along with others is facing problems with maintenance and even day to day operation. “It’s about time for an upgrade,” Daniels told the committee.

The station is staffed by one fire officer, a lieutenant or captain and three firefighters daily. Serving the Jefferson Davis corridor, the station took nearly 2500 calls for service in 2016.

The 74-year old facility is plagued by leaky roofs and the sits on a flood plain, having undergone renovations due to damage caused by Hurricane Isabel.

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When the power goes out there is not a generator to power the entire station. The facility was built before women were allowed to be firefighters, but that is now causing privacy issues in the bunk room and bathrooms.

“It really has to be seen in a broader context,” said Deputy Chief Elmond Taylor, who added that Station 21 is one of four facilities in the city facing similar problems. Station 20 on Forrest Hill Avenue is currently undergoing improvements, with a longer time table for stations 8 on Williamsburg Road and 19 on Maple Avenue. All four stations were built around the same time and have very similar layouts.

There are plans to renovate Station 21 in the next year. Under a renovation budget of approximately $1.5 million, Taylor said mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades are coming to the station.

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According to the department’s presentation:

‘The building layout, in its renovated configuration, will be designed to provide effective and efficient operation of the facility. The renovation/expansion project will address existing employee privacy issues with individual bunk rooms and adequate adjacent ADA shower/toilet facilities and locker room; provides ADA accessible kitchen, dayroom and training space; offices and bunks for company officers; increased storage/maintenance spaces and exercise room; separate lockers in the apparatus bay for firefighting gear (boots, pants, coats, and helmets known as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)).’

“In order to have great people doing great work, they have to have a place to do that work,” Daniels said.

The renovations have cleared the planning commission and urban design committee. Project construction documents will be submitted for permitting the week of April 27. A Request for Proposals will be prepared within the next 10 days and a solicitation will follow soon afterward. The renovations at Station 21 are slated to be finished in March of 2018.

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