Framed by shovels lined in front of the platform, Pine Bluff Fire Chief Shauwn Howell speaks Wednesday at the site of a new fire station to be built at 32nd Avenue and Beech Street. (Special to The Commercial/William Harvey)
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday morning at West 32nd Avenue and Beech Street, where construction of a modern, three-bay fire station is to be completed by January 2014.
Chief Shawn Howell of the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department considered the event more of a celebration.
“We’re building for current and future needs,” Howell said of the facility that will be replacing a nearby single-bay station built in 1956 at West 30th Avenue and Ash Street. “When the current station was built, I don’t think there was a lot of thought about future needs. But the new station will reflect changes that have influenced the present times and it will also have features that will carry over into the future.”
Mayor Carl A. Redus Jr. said the groundbreaking “marks a day of continual progress for our city.” The new Pine Bluff Fire Station No. 3 is being financed with revenues from the 5/8-cent “Penny for Progress” sales tax approved by voters in 2011.
“The Pine Bluff Fire Department responds expeditiously to fire and medical emergencies, which allows its brave men and women to protect the lives and property of our residents and visitors,” said Redus. “The department advances public safety through its fire prevention, investigation and educational programs. The timely deliveries of these services enable the Pine Bluff Fire Department to make significant contributions to safety and security efforts.
“This city is committed to providing our fire department with all of the necessary tools needed to perform the life-endangering job they endure daily,” he added. “This new fire station, which is replacing one that is 56 years old and is the first station to be built in over 30 years, is just one of the indications of our pledge to strengthen our community’s ‘quality of life/quality of place” initiatives.”
Howell said he wanted to thank everyone for making the new station possible with the sales tax.
“I also want to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the past,” he said. “I’m excited about this new station. It will have many more technological features than previous stations, and it will have private, individual quarters and shower areas to better serve our male and female personnel. And the bay will allow plenty of room for one of our new firetrucks and other equipment.”
The Nelson Architectural Group, represented at the ceremony by Dave Sadler and Richard Taylor, is providing architectural services for the new facility.