Station No. 7, situated at the corner of Troupe Street and Central Avenue, is easily Augusta's oldest firehouse still in operation, fire administration officials say.
The building - with its white stucco exterior and red Spanish Colonial-style roof - dates to 1914 and is snuggled in the heart of the Summerville neighborhood. Like many of the historic houses located nearby, though, the station is deteriorating.
Today, members of the Augusta Commission's public safety committee will look at a proposed design for the city's new fire stations, with construction set to start later this year. Among the first stations scheduled to be built using sales tax money is one that will move firefighters out of the Troupe Street station and into a modern building.
"It's an outdated concept for what a fire department should be," Deputy Chief Michael Rogers said. "The living conditions are based on what the concept for a fire department was back in the early part of the century."
For example, the doors to the engine bay aren't big enough to accommodate modern fire equipment housed there, so firefighters must back their engines in to park.
The plumbing is bad. The walls are settling and separating. Electrical wiring is frayed. And living space - originally designed to house only men - is too small.
Collections from the 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax, which voters extended through 2005 two years ago, sets aside $1.5 million for each of six new fire stations. The new stations are being built to consolidate firehouses in older neighborhoods, such as Summerville, while adding stations in neighborhoods that are growing - mainly south Richmond County.
"We're looking at the future," Deputy Chief Rogers said. "This is going to continue to be the trend."
The design plans that commissioners are scheduled to review today show more energy-efficient buildings, which should save heating and air-conditioning costs. New stations will incorporate modern lighting controlled by motion detectors, and their exteriors will more closely mirror that of nearby houses. Living spaces will accommodate both men and women.
"It will be state of the art," City Administrator George Kolb said.
If construction costs allow, new stations will include a community room so residents in the surrounding neighborhoods can have a meeting space available to them.
"Basically, it's just going to be an overall better structure, more accessible with more space, and something the community is going to be really proud of," Deputy Chief Rogers said.
Construction will start on the following three stations in 2002:
Station No. 1
Located near the intersection of Watkins and Third streets; proposed to be closed and combined with the former coverage area of Sand Bar Ferry Road Station No. 19 at a new location near the intersection of Broad and East Boundary streets
Station No. 7
Located on Central Avenue; proposed to be closed and moved to a new station between Sego and Browns roads in 2002
Station No. 8
Located on Central Avenue; proposed to be moved to a new building on Highland Avenue across from Daniel Field airport
Construction will begin on these three stations in 2003:
Station No. 12
Located near the intersection of Mike Padgett Highway and Hephzibah-McBean Road; proposed to be closed and built as a new station several miles west of the current location but still on Hephzibah-McBean Road
Station No. 15
Located in temporary facilities on Wrightsboro Road; proposed to move to a permanent facility to be built nearby
Station No. 19
Located on Sand Bar Ferry Road; proposed to move to a new facility built near the intersection of Willis Foreman and Lace roads
Reach Heidi Coryell Williams at (706) 823-3215.