(American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 11:34 AM
Near the end of 2013, the City Council began discussing the needs of fire stations. Items started popping up on the agendas about cooperative endeavor agreements between the city and Ward 3 Fire Protection District 2 to provide basic furnishings and equipment for a pair of stations.
On the surface, the ordinances looked like easy solutions to small, recent problems for the firefighters. In reality, the road to the new furnishings stretches back even further.
In November, ordinances were passed to upgrade the stations at 2991 East Gauthier Road and 9253 Gulf Highway. Keith Murray, Lake Charles fire chief, watched the process firsthand. For him, the furniture was just a final piece of a larger puzzle that consisted of improving the living conditions for firefighters. At one point, the firefighters were living in a location not meant to support 24-hour inhabitants, Murray said of the East Gauthier Road station.
“The guys were staying there, but the place didn’t have what it needed to support that,” he said.
After some extensive work on the molding and roofing, and improving the conditions of the drinking water, Murray said the place was turned into a location fitting the firefighters’ needs. There is also a captain’s office and an extra bedroom.
On the agenda, the amounts listed for the fire stations was “approximately $15,000” for each location.
Murray described the Gulf Highway station as basically just a place where the crew could house their fire truck. Now, with an improved two-bedroom house behind the station, the firefighters have a place to rest comfortably between calls.
The remodeling was all part of a capital project where extra money was used to help the fire department get the work done, Murray said. Furnishings were just a final step. After bouncing between FEMA trailers, dealing with water that smelled like rotten eggs and living in locations meant for only short stays, Murray said the firefighters directly affected by the new surroundings are thankful for the upgrades.
“The guys are a lot happier, I can tell you that,” Murray said with a laugh. “The guys feel like they’re a real department now.”