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Saving lives, saving dollars

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Firefighters build new two fire stations

By Lisa King

 

Firefighters are used to seeing buildings destroyed, but in this case, they have turned that scenario around. Thanks to the efforts of dozens of firefighters, two new county fire stations have just become operational; Station 4 on Finchville Road and Station 5 on LaGrange Road. The two buildings each encompass 6,000 square feet, and Shelby County Fire Chief Bobby Cowherd said that what makes these structures so unique is that much of the construction work was done by the firefighters themselves. “We are fortunate to have firefighters who are certified electricians and HVAC technicians,” he said. “They volunteered countless hours to complete all the electrical and HVAC work in the stations.” He added that several firefighters who are carpenters also volunteered their labor to complete the inside framing and carpentry work. The outside grading work was also done by firefighters.  “We also had many members who dry-walled, painted, and worked on hundreds of tasks required to get these stations open,” he said.  Sgt. Eric Butler at Station 4 was one of many who worked hard to get the buildings ready. “Although a great many people helped out, there was a core group of about eight of us who worked three days a week for a year,” he said. “We put in 600 man hours, doing framing, electrical and all the dry wall. The only thing we had to contract out was the plumbing, because none of us was a licensed plumber.” Cowherd said this kind of dedication is not new to his department.  “This is not the first time this fire department has done this,” he said. “The electrical and carpentry work on the fire station on 7th Street was done by firefighters, along with the later addition of a maintenance bay.” Cowherd said firefighters worked on other stations, too, such as Station 2 on Taylorsville Road and Station 3 on Eminence Pike. “Every station that the Shelby County Fire Department has built has the work of the volunteers somewhere in it,” he said. Cowherd said firefighters have saved the taxpayers of the fire district a lot of money. “Not only do they put their lives on the line, but they dedicate many hours of work to save the fire department and taxpayers money and bettering our fire department,” he said. Cowherd said when  funding was being gathered for the two new stations, he felt the stations could be completed for $250,000 each.  “When Station 4 was appraised, the appraiser called me and asked how we were building the station for $250,000. He had appraised the station for over $00,000. When I explained all of the work the firefighters had done, the appraiser said, ‘You all have saved the taxpayers a substantial amount of money, to the sum of $200,000 per station.’” Station 4 and its equipment were funded through the general budget of the fire district and has been paid off. Station 5 was funded by a state grant that also covered the purchase of three apparatus housed in the station. Cowherd said the two new stations give the county a total of five. But that doesn’t include Simpsonville, with three stations, Bagdad and Mount Eden, that two apiece, East 60 and Waddy. The Shelbyville Fire Department has two operational stations and one under construction. The chief said that whenever possible, building materials and services were purchased and contracted locally. He expressed his gratitude to the firefighters and their families who also sacrificed much having them spend so much time away from home to build the stations.  Butler, who is a  registered nurse and firefighter of 10 years, the last four with Shelby County, agreed that the families of firefighters are very understanding. “Our wives are very special people,” he said. “They have to put up with us leaving the dinner table suddenly, or having to go out in three in the morning to a house fire. If wasn’t for them holding down the fort at home, we couldn’t have done all this.” He added that he and the other volunteers were glad to be able to help. “The nature of the volunteer is that we’re people who like to do what we can to help people,” he said. “We are very, very fortunate here in Shelby County. “These are substations, but they are incredible. Many people would love to have them for a primary station. We have plenty of room to grow. And we have been blessed with great leadership for the past 20 years.” That sentiment is returned by their chief. “The taxpayers of the Shelby County Suburban Fire District should be proud of what we have accomplished and the money that was saved.” He said. “If you see our volunteers at a station or the bay doors open, I encourage you to stop in and say hello, we will be happy to show you around.”  

 

Insurance Info

Residents who live within 5 miles of  these new stations, at 7370 LaGrange Road and 980 Finchville Road, should contact their insurance companies, because they possibly could get lower premiums.