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After years of scrimping, saving and at times dreaming, the Anderson County Fire District has finally begun the process of building a new fire station in western Anderson County.
The district’s board of directors is in the process of accepting bids for a new Station 4, which will be located where the current station sits on Bardstown Road about a mile before Highway 555.
Construction of the new station is expected to begin sometime next month and be completed in May of next year.
Anderson County Fire Chief Mike Barnes said no firm price tag has been set, but figures it will be between $300,000 and $325,000 “but under $400,000 by all means.”
Barnes said the fire district expects to pay a hefty chunk of that cost with money it has saved.
“With being frugal through the years, we’ve been able to take carryover money in our budget and put it in the bank for this purpose,” Barnes said. “We’ve been doing a lot of planning so we don’t have to do a big loan and have that hanging over our heads.”
What has been hanging over the heads of the volunteers who operate out of the current Station 4 is a 28-foot by 25-foot dilapidated fire hall that has no running water, no storage for vital safety equipment and is barely big enough to hold the station’s two fire trucks — both of which are forced to drive over an old cistern that is on the verge of collapse.
“The trucks drive over that every time they come in or go out and it’s starting to bust up,” Barnes said, adding that the building is so small that firefighters have to walk sideways between the trucks just to get in them.
“It’s bare bones,” he said. “It has no bathroom, no running water and it’s structurally in very bad shape.
“The building is at the end of its life.”
The new building will be around 4,000 square feet and provide amenities to the volunteers who staff it, including and room to store equipment needed to protect residents in the county’s western end.
“One of the primary things is that it will allow us to get a brush truck and a boat in that station because it will have three bays instead of two,” Barnes said, adding that the brush truck will be used for brush fires in the largely farming community and that the boat will be used for rescue operations on nearby Taylorsville Lake.
The new station will also provide storage room for safety equipment volunteers use on a regular basis, as well as some basic creature comforts necessary to keep and recruit volunteers, which Barnes said has remained difficult.
“It’s going to light a fire under them like we’ve never seen,” said Barnes, adding that the station is woefully short on volunteers with just five. “They’ll be going from a place with only two doors, no phones and no place to wash your hands or relieve yourself.
“Now, when they come back from an incident they’ll have room to take care of their equipment inside of the building, sit down, do their reports or study, if that’s what they need to do.”
Barnes said the creature comforts can’t be underestimated in keeping a ready stable of volunteers.
“We’re big on trying to include families,” he said. “There’s no way a volunteer can bring over a spouse or children. With a new station, there will be a small kitchen area and we can do some station gatherings.
“I hope we’ll generate more interest that way.”