KINGSPORT — Fire Station 2 has been in service for nearly 80 years. It’s an iconic structure that hundreds of firefighters have called home as they responded to thousands of calls over the decades. Countless students from across the city have toured its halls.
It’s a building with a lot of memories and, as all things do, it’s starting to show its age.
Kingsport Fire Chief Scott Boyd recently gave an update about Fire Station 2 to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. He talked about the current condition of the building, the problems it faces, and his recommendation on how to address the issue.
Bottom line: Boyd is recommending building a new fire station adjacent to the old Legion Pool site.
CURRENT BUILDING CONDITION
Fire Station 2 is located at 1804 Crescent Drive and is probably the most visible fire station in town.
It was built and opened in 1942 and currently houses one engine and technical rescue equipment.
One of the problems with the building is it’s simply too small for today’s fire trucks, Boyd said.
“It was built for the fire trucks of 1942. Trucks are so much larger now and we have apparatus that we can’t even house in that building,” Boyd said. “If we renovate, (the size of the building) is never going to change. It’ll always still be the same.”
Fire Station 2 is also “not even close” to being ADA compliant, Boyd said. There’s limited space for firefighting equipment, and expanding the building’s current footprint just isn’t that economically feasible, he noted.
The bedrooms are right above where the trucks are parked, and there’s no separate sleeping or bathroom facilities for men and women.
“In 1942, (firefighting) was a male-dominated field. There were no females at that time,” Boyd said.
The cost of renovating Fire Station 2 is probably more than $1.1 million (a 2016 estimate) and the building would still be eight decades old.
“At end of the day, it’s 80 years old and it’s been a great station. It’s just wearing down and will just continue to deteriorate with time,” Boyd said.
Boyd is recommending the city build a new fire station adjacent to the old Legion Pool site. He envisions a one-story, three-bay structure with room for administration and the fire marshal’s office, currently located in Fire Station 1. The estimated cost is $3.6 million.
This recommendation comes from a committee of fire department and city employees, the architects and citizens at large. The committee received feedback on the issue from the community and fire department employees and considered a number of options, including renovating the existing building, relocating to a different site and closing the station.
Money for the design and engineering work is being requested in the 2022 budget. If the project makes the cut, Boyd said folks could start seeing construction take place in the summer or fall of 2022. The last two fire stations built in Kingsport took about 10 to 12 months to complete.