By: Adrienne Wallace | Email: Click Here
Posted: December 26, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – The process is moving forward, and Jefferson Park volunteer firefighters and the paid crew that work out of the dated station can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And the light is not the sunshine showing through the cracks in the cinder block walls of the bay – now it’s the fact that a new facility is taking shape.
With a groundbreaking held earlier this fall and now preliminary plans in hand, the new and improved station is coming to fruition.
That’s something JPVFD Chief Timothy Flynn says will not only be better for the first responders but the county overall.
It’s members are the first to answer the call to four different apartment complexes, several sub divisions and commercial sites, and functioning out of a station built in 1987 right off the main roadway has offered its challenges.
Flynn admits the building is outdated and that the county’s maintenance units and members of the fire department are continuously making patches and doing other things to keep the facility as functioning as possible.
“It’s a public building and we are taking care of it,” Flynn noted during a recent visit to the station just off Jefferson Park Road. “We take pride in the station and will always take care of it and keep it as neat and clean as possible.”
The Prince George Fire and EMS ambulance squad leaves the station on a call while Chief Timothy Flynn stands by. (Adrienne Wallace)
The new site, though close to where its located now, will have many benefits to the overall mission of the team. It puts it back off the four-lane road that sees a lot of traffic and on Brandywine in a neighborhood.
“A lot of fire stations are moving to that because we are part of the community and we can become even more connected if we are in the neighborhoods,” he noted.
The proposed site is land off of Brandywine Road that backs up to Garfield near the Stratford Woods subdivision that was proffered to the county by a developer with the agreement that once the county gained its certificate of occupancy, the property where the station now sits would go to the developer.
Not only will it help their visibility for open houses and other events many that they do today, but Flynn suggests it will benefit recruitment by talking with families and even youngsters that pass by each day.
Jefferson Park Volunteer Firefighters and the paid firefighter medics are working out of a dated building that has suffered from structural issues for years.
The facility, just outside of Hopewell city limits, was constructed in a hurry to help protect that area from annexation to Hopewell at the time. Having fire protection at that area served as an asset to Prince George in its fight against annexation where cities can take property from counties. The county had already lost some land to Petersburg and Hopewell.
Jefferson Park is the first due fire station to the Puddledock area that includes Puddledock apartments and several commercial medical facilities.
They also are first due to Independence Place, Jefferson Point, and Bailey’s Ridge apartments and the subdivisions in that area as well as Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek West off of Middle Road. They have a densely populated call area, Fire and EMS Director Owens noted, as well as providing mutual aid for Hopewell calls so those working out of Station 5 are handling more fire calls than other stations.
Chief Timothy Flynn manages operations form his desk at JPVFD which is expected to be replaced with a new facility next year. (Adrienne Wallace)
The new building, that is expected to be completed between October and November of next year, is expected to feature safety measures including a clean and dirty side separated by the bay.
Flynn explains that helps protect firefighters who come in off of calls by keeping their contaminated turnout gear away from other living quarters.
There is a high rate of cancer among firefighters, and Flynn said, he has unfortunately lost friends and fellow responders to the deadly disease.
Other key elements are planned to help protect the firefighters, as well as help, make their operations more efficient and even timelier.
But still, the fact of a new fire station is causing concern among others with signs popping up stating “Build schools, not fire stations.”
In fact, the School Board displayed those signs at a meeting in the School Board office training room.
“We support the schools an School Board in their endeavors,” Flynn said when asked what he thought of the message. “We have just gone through the process, and we know how challenging it can be – we support their efforts.”
Now that the new Route 10 Station 7 is up and running, Flynn said Jefferson Park has an idea of their owns plans based on that design, but nothing has been finalized.
At the station, volunteers, career personnel staff a medic unit operate 24 hours a day, seven days per week with the option of a second medic unit that can be manned by volunteer staff.
Engine 5, Tower 5, Brush 5, Support 5, Utility 5, Wildland 5, Responder 5, and Medics 5 and 5-2 are assigned to the Jefferson Park Station.
Once completed, this new station will be the second the county has constructed since 2017, when supervisors approved funding to build Prince George Fire Station 7 along James River Drive in Burrowsville, which opened this summer.
Supervisors approved $3.2 million to fund the construction of the new Jefferson Park VFD station.
While the dedicated members who work out the station await the new facility, Flynn says its business as usual, and they will continue to answer the call when in needed.
Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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