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Augusta fire chief, retirees want to convert old station into museum

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 7:04 PM
Last updated 11:37 PM
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Augusta-Richmond County Fire Chief Chris James and a band of retired and current firefighters are renewing a push to convert the nearly 100-year-old building that once housed Augusta Engine Company No. 7 into a fire museum and education center.

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Lt. Joey Smith, of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department, spent six to eight months restoring Engine No. 7 from 1924 at the historic Central Avenue station. Firefighters want to convert the building into a museum.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Lt. Joey Smith, of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department, spent six to eight months restoring Engine No. 7 from 1924 at the historic Central Avenue station. Firefighters want to convert the building into a museum.

“There are so many firefighters who have worked there over the years,” retired Deputy Fire Chief Dennis Atkins said of the historic fire station on Central Avenue.

“I’d be willing to serve on the committee; a bunch of retired guys would.”

James and Atkins said the museum would be the perfect home for the large amounts of memorabilia that many current and retired firefighters have collected.

“There are a lot of people who have bits and pieces of our fire history, if they only had a place to put it,” Atkins said.

The building, Augusta’s first station to house motorized fire engines not drawn by horses, currently is home to a vintage engine restored by fire Lt. Joey Smith, who is working on a 1924 engine that Atkins said has particular significance to Augusta’s fire history. The building has been used mainly for storage and occasional firefighter training since Engine Company No. 7 moved to new digs in late 2003.

James said the project would bolster a sense of pride among Augusta and former Richmond County firefighters.

“It’s a project that could bring our firefighters together,” he said.

Renovating the 6,500-square-foot building probably faces an uphill battle.

“It’s a wonderful thing to think about, but the reality of being able to operate it, to maintain it on city dollars doesn’t really seem realistic in my mind, but I haven’t had that conversation yet,” City Administrator Fred Russell said.

Russell said he imagined its possible private use as a restaurant or bed-and-breakfast.

“I think it would be a hell of a nice restaurant, or something,” he said.

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catawba7
319
Points
catawba7 01/23/13 - 12:31 pm
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0
Russell wants a bed & breakfast?

We do not need another food establishment in Augusta. The retirees have a great idea of having a Fire Museum and we need to embrace this idea. This would be a great treat as a school field trip or family outing, plus it would encourage those young people who may be considering the job of Firefighter as a career. If you want to serve food, throw in some "Firehouse Subs".

Russell should retire as his ideas are dated.

Jack Evans
2
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Jack Evans 01/23/13 - 11:59 pm
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Honor & education

This fire station is an iconic Augusta landmark, and its history is inseparable from the firefighters that have served this city for generations. There is no better or more appropriate use for "Number 7" than a museum dedicated to preserving the history of Augusta's firefighters and educating future generations on fire safety. Chief James and his team deserve our support.

Little Lamb
45204
Points
Little Lamb 01/24/13 - 12:27 pm
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Bed & Breakfast?

From the story:

Augusta City Administrator Fred (What, me worry?) Russell said he imagined its possible private use as a restaurant or bed-and-breakfast.

Well, Fred, it won't be a restaurant or a bed-and-breakfast as long as the city hangs onto the building. Put it on the market and sell it off to the highest bidder. That would get it back on the tax rolls.

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