RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond is building its first new fire station in more than 20 years. Ground was broken today on a $4.6 million project along Semmes Avenue at the corner of 22nd Street. It would replace the 94-year-old station on Bainbridge Street.
A "steamer" is how Richmond responded to fires in 1917. The building that goes along with that truck has never been renovated, a big reason why the city's building a new fire station on the Southside.
No more responding to emergencies from a 94-year-old building that's never seen a major renovation.
Station 17 has narrow halls and cramped quarters with barely enough room for a cot. Electrical plugs are Jerry-rigged to work. And with a blind turn in front of the building, backing up a fire truck into the bay is quite a production.
"It's a great station. It's beautiful architecture but it's a 100-year-old building and it has seen its duty. it's time for it to find a new purpose," said Fire Chief Robert Creecy.
The city broke ground on a more modern, $4.5 million station 17 Tuesday.
"When you move into a community you want to know where your fire station is and you want to know that it's adequate to meet the needs of a growing community," said Mayor Dwight Jones.
It will be built at the top of Canoe Run Park along Semmes Avenue.
"It's significant for the community to agree to give up parkland. In order for us to have a fire station. So, we take that partnership very seriously. We've pledged to them to make this a focal point of the community," added Creecy.
In return, the city will fix the walking trails and add lighting to the park at night.
The old building on Bainbridge Street, will eventually be closed until the city finds a new purpose for it. The new fire station is expected to be up and running in a little over a year, by September of 2012.
The majority of this project was paid for with federal stimulus money. The city had to cough up an extra one and a half million.