Elected officials, retired and active-duty firefighters and members of the community filled the bays Wednesday morning as the Pine Bluff’s newest fire station, Number Three, was officially opened.
The new station, at 601 W. 32nd Ave., replaces former Station Three at 3000 Ash Street, which was built in 1957.
Station Capt. Harold Clark, whose initial duty assignment was at the old Station Three, said he was involved in the planning and construction of the new station from the very beginning and said he felt like “a proud parent” with the official opening of the new building.
Firefighters had actually been using the facility since mid-January but Wednesday was the first chance for the general public and elected officials to see the building.
“The station at 3000 Ash served our needs for a decade,” Clark said. “Everyone in the neighborhood knew who we were and we knew who they were and I’m excited and encouraged that our new neighbors have already stopped by.”
In his remarks, Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell offered a collective “thank you” for residents’ support of the tax initiative that allowed the department to build the new station, as well as remodel two other stations and acquire new equipment.
“Station Three is one of the busiest in the city because of its central location,” Howell said. “If they’re not the primary unit on a call, they’re going to be a backup and this station is a good fit with that.”
“Today I am Pine Bluff proud,” Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said in her remarks, adding that residents recognized the needs of the city when they voted for what was called the “Penny for Progress” tax initiative. Funding for the new station came from proceeds from bond sales associated with that tax increase.
Hollingsworth said that from the beginning of her campaign for mayor in 2012, she placed an emphasis on the importance of public safety.
“I believe public safety in this city is second to none,” she said.
The mayor also talked about economic development, and said that when “site locators” look at a city as a potential site for a company or business, one of the things they look for is communities willing to invest in themselves.
“Thank you for voting for projects such as this,” she said.
After a ribbon cutting ceremony, firefighters followed tradition when they pushed a fire truck into a bay at the station. In the early days of the fire service, horses were used to pull fire apparatus, and when they returned to the station, the horses were unhooked and the fire wagon was pushed into the station.