City opens new fire station

Published 8:36 pm Thursday, August 5, 2010

It’s part fire station, part emergency operations center and part administrative complex.

But on Tuesday, the new King’s Fork Public Safety Center was also a showcase for the pride that Suffolk has in its Department of Fire and Rescue.

Firefighters and paramedics mingled with city and state officials during a ceremony to mark the opening of the new 25,000-square-foot facility. There were smiles and congratulatory handshakes all around.

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Suffolk Mayor Linda T. Johnson put into words the feeling of many who were on hand for the event.

“Just when you think you can’t be any prouder of our community, today I am even prouder,” she said. “This facility is evidence that we value our city and every resident in it.”

The new building houses fire crews and apparatus from Station 6, serving the King’s Fork area, which includes a middle school, a high school, a hospital and emergency shelters.

The building is located on Dominion Power’s primary electrical grid, which means that it would be among the first to have its power restored in case of an outage, Chief Mark Outlaw told the crowd gathered inside the equipment bay prior to the official ribbon cutting.

The site, adjacent to King’s Fork Middle School, was donated by the School Board, saving the city the expense of buying property, and it’s located in the midst of a fast-growing part of the city.

Diane Williams of Congressman J. Randy Forbes’ office called the location “brilliant.”

Delegate S. Chris Jones, who served on the City Council and as mayor of Suffolk before moving on to state politics, said the facility was the culmination of a dream that City Council had when it was zoning property in the area 20 years ago.

The combination of emergency services offered from the building is an unusual one, speakers said, and it will offer significant benefits to the city.

Among the most immediate benefits is the extra space gained for the emergency operations center, which had been in severely cramped quarters prior to Tuesday’s opening.

“The new EOC will provide additional security, space, space and more space,” Outlaw said. That space will help improve the efficiency of those who work there, he added.

Suffolk’s first responders deserved the new space, City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn said, because of the service they provide the city.

“We dedicate this building to you for your service and for never leaving us alone,” she said.

Mayor Johnson agreed. The new building will “provide a work environment that is comparable to the jobs that you do,” she said.