Aberdeen Firefighters Adjust to Temporary Housing
Aberdeen firefighters are doing their best to make a home out their new temporary housing.
A small, gray trailer that sits adjacent to the station’s fire engine bays is the department’s home while the current fire station is undergoing an expansion.
“It’s our guys’ home, and we are doing our best to make it feel that way,” said Aberdeen Fire Chief Phillip Richardson.
The Aberdeen fire station is undergoing a $1.4 million expansion that is made possible through federal stimulus money in the form of a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The total amount of the project is $1,423,300. The loan will cover $1,144,900, with a grant providing $203,400 and the town paying the other $75,000.
“The best thing about the whole situation is that the move hasn’t affected our response times,” Richardson said.
The drab trailer has been accented with two black rocking chairs and a small bench out front and a picnic table and a grill between the trailer and the fire station.
Designed for and used for a year by the Fort Bragg Fire Department the trailer was move-in ready when it was brought to Aberdeen in early February. The department moved in just after Valentine’s Day.
“It was ready to go when we got it,” Richardson said. “All we really had to add was our computers.”
The inside of the trailer is cozy, especially for 56 members on the fire department roster.
It has a living space, a kitchen, a bathroom and shower, two small offices and four college dormitory-sized rooms that sleep seven.
“If we don’t know each other well by now, we will,” Richardson said with laugh.
“We are making it work,” said Kati Horvath, the department’s administrative assistant. “We are lucky to be a good group of people. The move hasn’t phased anybody too much.”
There have been some adjustments for firefighters.
First and foremost is getting to the gear and trucks when a call comes. When staying in the station, firefighters had easy access to their equipment and the fire engines without leaving the building.
“Now, we have to go come through the side door (of the bay) and go around all the trucks to get to the equipment racks,” said Capt. Jeremiah Johnson.
Other issues the firefighters are dealing with include increased noise from traffic because the trailer is closer to U.S. 1 , and the bedrooms inside face the road. The single shower is small, and there is not as much storage space.
There is a lack of meeting space, and when too many people are in the trailer, it reportedly begins to rock.
“We’re having some growing pains, but it will be worth it,” said firefighter Curtis Holden.
The expanded fire station will feature larger meeting rooms, more living space and an emergency management center for the town.
Much of the sod, trees and bushes around the station that was displaced by the work has been relocated to other areas around town.
The Aberdeen Fire Department has been in its current location since 1983. Construction crews began work on the expansion in mid-February. The work is contracted to be completed in December.
Currently the work is ahead of schedule, and Richardson said he has been told the work could be completed as early as mid-September.
That time frame would please all the members of the department, including Ariel, the fire station cat.
“She’s probably having the hardest time,” Richardson said.
Ariel has been member of the department since she turned up at the station as a kitten in 2000. The dark grey tabby with green eyes has the run of the station. She hangs around the bay most days, lounging on the bumpers of the trucks or wandering around, careful to avoid areas where work is being done. But she has yet to visit the trailer on her own.
“She’ll go over there if I carry her over and put her in my office,” said Richardson, who has a real affinity for the cat. “I think she is just waiting for all the work to be done so she can have her fire station back.”
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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