Station 1 rededicated

Published 9:55 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Officials on Tuesday cut a ribbon and rededicated a building to celebrate the completion of a $2.85-million upgrade to one of the city’s oldest public safety facilities.

The list of improvements at Suffolk Fire & Rescue’s Station 1 includes everything from new bay doors and the concrete apron leading onto Market Street to new carpet and furniture in the day room and new turnout gear lockers.

But the value of the station was more apparent Tuesday in the way firefighters proudly gave tours of their newly renovated station and the way retirees remembered their service in the building. More than a dozen retirees and spouses of deceased retirees who worked out of Station 1 attended the ceremony.

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“I can’t count how many Christmases I spent here, how many Thanksgivings I spent here,” Deputy Chief Ted Adams said during the ceremony. He recalled big holiday dinners at long tables in the apparatus bays with spouses and children running around.

“It was home,” he said. “If we couldn’t be there, we brought it here.”

“As we rededicate this building, I think we rededicate ourselves as well,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said during the ceremony. “I could only imagine the stories these walls would tell since these doors first opened back in 1963 — stories of lives and property saved, stories of miraculous rescues, stories of prayers offered up and tears shed when situations were out of your control.”

The 54-year-old building is the second in Suffolk to be known as Station 1. Built in 1884, the first Station 1 was located at the corner of Saratoga and Market streets. The current building opened in 1963 but has undergone a number of changes, even before the recent renovations.

The station first housed the administration for the department as well as fire dispatchers, who worked there until the city established a 911 call center in the 1990s, according to a city press release. It also housed an automotive pit for performing repair and maintenance work under the engines before the city had a fleet management division. The building received an additional bay in the 1980s to house a new platform truck.

These days, it houses a minimum of 15 personnel at a time staffing eight units: Battalion 1, EMS 1, Engine 1, Engine 2, Rescue 1, Medic 1, Brush 1 and Tanker 1.

The 10,200-square-foot, two-story building had complete interior and exterior renovations during the project. Light fixtures have been replaced; walls, ceilings and floors in the bays have new paint; the bays have signature, fire-engine-red, steel, bi-fold doors; new infrared gas-fired heater units were installed in all of the bays; all exterior windows, doors and trim were replaced; and the exterior fire stair was removed and replaced.

The kitchen, dining area, offices and corridors all have been upgraded without significant layout changes. On the second floor, the bunkroom layout was kept intact, but it received new wall finishes, ceiling, lighting, carpet and window shades. There are also individual bunkrooms for the battalion chiefs, and the shower and restroom areas were given a new layout. A new day room, laundry room and lockers were created.

The facility also has an entirely new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. The old system was known to give the city major troubles before the renovations.

While the renovations were ongoing, the equipment and staff were kept mostly on site, in temporary trailer units or in the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad building just a block or so down the street. NSVRS Chief Rusty Hundley received a plaque Tuesday in recognition of the partnership.

The character of the building was also retained, Mayor Johnson noted.

“There’s a true desire in this city to remember the history,” she said.