Okla. firefighters' new station 'picks up morale'

By Tami Althoff
The Oklahoman
Copyright 2007 The Oklahoman, All Rights Reserved

NORMAN, Okla. — Firefighters assigned to Norman's Station No. 3 haven't had any problem getting used to the new $1.5 million building they moved into earlier this month.

Travis King, a third-generation firefighter and driver with the Norman Fire Department, said the new, 8,500-square-foot station is the nicest he's ever seen.

"My dad and granddad were both firemen, so I've seen a lot of stations," King said. "We've got something here we can be proud of. It really picks up morale. It kind of rejuvenates you."

The new station, east of Jenkins Avenue on Constitution Street, replaces an outdated station on Lindsey Street near the Brandt Park Duck Pond. Built nearly 45 years ago, the old station became too small to serve Norman's growing needs, Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey said.

"Because of the widening of Lindsey Street, the engines would almost stick out into the road when you pulled them out of the bay," Bailey said. "The new location gives us a quicker response time to southeast Norman."

Due to traffic on Lindsey, engines could barely pull out into the street on University of Oklahoma football game days. The cramped drive also made it hard to wash and equip the engines each morning.

"It was a real hazard," King said.

Bailey said the best qualities of Norman's other fire stations were used in the planning and construction of the new station.

Large windows let in plenty of natural light, and the open living area is filled with overstuffed recliners.

An entertainment center on one wall houses a big screen TV, purchased after several firefighters pooled their money.

The adjacent kitchen is furnished with a large table, several stainless steel refrigerators, an oven, stove and plenty of cabinet and storage space.

The garage has three bays that house an engine and a brush unit. Soon it will house a mobile command center that will serve both the fire and police departments, King said. The driveway is long enough to accommodate all the vehicles.

Other amenities include a workout room, a study and a laundry room with a washer and dryer capable of cleaning gear, as well as a shower where firefighters can wash off hazardous materials.

The station also has individual living quarters for up to 10 firefighters. Right now, five firefighters are assigned to Station No. 3, working 10 24-hour shifts per month. That number is expected to grow over the next few years.

"The station was built for growth," King said. "It's supposed to last for the next 75 years."

King, who helped design the station, said while he appreciates his new work space, there are some drawbacks.

"You spend a lot more time cleaning," he said. "It's nice and new, so you want to keep it that way."

Those who would like to check out the new station can do so in October, when all seven of Norman's fire stations hold their annual open houses as part of Fire Prevention Month, Bailey said. 

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