Driver fire station to expand facilities

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Addition: The Driver Volunteer Fire Department is undergoing an addition to the building to make room for more firefighters at the station. The station now will be staffed with career firefighters 24 hours a day.

The Driver Volunteer Fire Department is adding a 1,300-square-foot expansion to allow the station to have career firefighters present at all times, the Suffolk fire chief said.

Chief Mark R. Outlaw said the addition has been in the capital budget for a while as a response to the growth in North Suffolk.

The expansion will add six bedrooms, two fully equipped bathrooms with showers and a storage facility.

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He said the budget calls for 12 positions to be created in order to staff the new station, which means four firefighters for each shift.

“We can certainly guarantee there will be a career staff there 24 hours a day,” he said.

The station now has an ambulance team that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and four career firefighters who work 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

These firefighters come to Driver from the Bridge Road station, bringing a fire engine with them. Outlaw said they thought it was important to have a full staff at Driver and not take workers and engines away from Bridge Road.

Volunteer firefighters run the station and respond to calls during nights and weekends. There are about 40 volunteers who respond to calls at the Driver station.

Outlaw said he hopes the volunteers continue to work at the fire station with the added staff.

“We’re certainly not doing this to push out volunteers,” he said. “We work very well together.”

Outlaw also said the addition should help improve response times throughout the city.

Construction on the addition began last week. It is expected to be completed by the middle of May.