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Fort Leonard Wood's Fire Station No. 3 set to open

Brian Hill
Fort Leonard Wood
Firefighters Frank Boniello (left) and Malcolm Smith construct lockers for fire-fighting equipment Jan. 14 at Fort Leonard Wood's new Fire Station No. 3. The station is set to open Jan. 22 and will provide quicker response times to locations on the east side of the cantonment area.

FORT LEONARD WOOD — The Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department is set to open a new fire station Jan. 22. Fire Station No. 3, Bldg. 2375, is on Oklahoma Ave., and according to Fort Leonard Wood Fire Chief Brad Bowling, the new station will help firefighters on post meet certain time and distance response standards in the eastern parts of the cantonment area.

“We have to be able to have trucks on scene within 7 minutes,” he said. “This new station takes our forces and geographically positions us to where we can do that.”

Bowling said the 17,000-square-foot building will house one fire engine moved over from Fire Station No. 1 on the west side of the cantonment area and five firefighters: four on shift at any time and one rotated out for days off — fire fighters typically spend 24 hours on duty and then have 24 hours off.

In addition, the new station has been designed with offices and classrooms for headquarters leadership, training and inspection staff.

“That’s the reason why this station has a larger parking lot — to ease the flow of traffic,” Bowling said. “When (Fire Station No. 1) was completed and we moved in, we had already outgrown it. Classrooms there had to be turned into office space; the day room was also turned into more office space and there was no recreation area.”

Headquarters and fire prevention staff eventually moved into Bldg. 625, near the corner of Iowa and Replacement avenues, but “there is no kitchen, no showers, no facilities and we are also operating there 24 hours a day,” Bowling said.

According to Lt. Eric Robb, a fire engine driver and crew chief at the new station, the amenities in the new building are “a huge quality of life improvement.”

“Basically, the whole station is an upgrade,” Robb said. “It’s well thought out. For example, there’s a new kitchen — everything is just brand new; everything is state of the art. Everything is commercial grade — the stove, microwave, laundry, everything — which makes a big difference when you have 10 guys using these things all day.”

Robb added the alarm system has a new, helpful feature.

“For calls during the night, the lights come up on their own — they slowly brighten,” he said. “This works to alert everyone in a dead sleep to respond quicker.”

Bowling said they tried to go in “a different direction” when planning some of the little details inside the new station.

“This is a design from the (Department of Defense), used on many other installations, but we were able to make minimal tweaking to the design plan,” he said. “Instead of the cold, industrial feel, we worked to make this firehouse have a more homely feel. The firefighters here are working a minimum of 144 hours every two weeks, essentially living here every other day — this is their second home.”

This is only the second new fire station Bowling said he’s seen constructed in 30 years.

“This is not an everyday occurrence, and this is coming from someone who has worked all over the DoD,” he said. “It is definitely something to get one; it is a big improvement and big morale boost.”