Glimmer of Hope for Fire Station #1

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Roanoke Fire Station #1, the oldest operating fire station in Virginia, survives yet another attempt by the City to close it forever. Roanoke City Council had a vote to act on today which allocated almost $700,000 more in funding for the new Fire Station/Administration building at Elm and Franklin. The City Council decided during a morning work session to move forward with the building of the new station, however they wanted the consolidation of Fire Station #1 to be taken out of the equation. This came to fruition during the 2 pm City Council meeting where several Council members wanted to make it clear that by voting yes to the additional money, they were not agreeing to close Fire Station #1. The City Manager was asked whether or not the new building plans should be reconsidered to remove the space that was required for Ladder 1 and its crew, which she stated that it would cost more money to revamp the plans and the space might be used in the future for other fire apparatus and crews.
What does all of this mean?
Certain aspects of these decisions might be inferred differently. Certainly both sides won. The Fire Administration gets to move forward with its plans for the new station. The Citizens, Business owners, and Firefighters keep the Historic Fire Station #1 and the services it provides to downtown Roanoke. However what will this mean in the future? Well only time will tell. I hope that the Citizens and Business owners do not forget what the fire station means to downtown Roanoke and that the need for fire protection will always be alive in this area. I can only hope that future City Councils, City Managers, and Fire Administrators do not lose sight of all the hard work and determination that the Business owners, Citizens, and Firefighters put into keeping this station open. It is not all that often that a City agenda gets the amount of publicity, support, and diverse views as this has.
Diesel Exhaust Systems
I have to speak on another issue of Diesel Exhaust Systems which got some publicity at the meeting. I feel this is a necessity in our stations. Mayor Harris would like to see these systems installed in the stations. The Chief made comment about these systems in relation to other departments. He stated that firefighters would use them for the first 6 months and then become complacent in the use of them. I can assure you all that if my station had these systems I would use them and make sure that my coworkers would use them also.
I feel as though our firefighters are not given enough credit for the work that we do and the determination in which we do it. We certainly do not ask for much, mostly just fair treatment and decent equipment to do our jobs with. In the era post 9/11 we have been asked to respond, react, contain, and remedy emergencies that our brothers and sisters before us would not have dreamed about. With the development of Homeland Security and the realization of the public that we are a vital link in first response to acts of terrorism and its secondary emergencies, we have had to train harder and think smarter each day so that we can provide for our citizens in their times of need. Increased EMS responses and mutual and automatic aid into Salem, Roanoke County, and Vinton have provided us with a higher call load, longer responses, and the need to work with multiple jurisdictions. The City has a witnessed increased flooding responses in the past couple years and we have implemented a Swift Water Rescue Team. This team was called out numerous times just weeks after its inception. The Team responded Valley Wide to provide a service to our customers which showcases our steadfast determination in providing the best Fire and Pre-Hospital Medical care in Western Virginia. Our members strive to bring new technologies, training, and special operations to Roanoke City all the while continuing our day to day operations which we pride ourselves on. The Firefighters of Roanoke City are proud of our traditions, history, brothers and sisters, and citizens. We will continue to make Roanoke City the safest City in the State and make our City Administrators, City Council, and Customers proud to have us protecting them.

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