Hopewell Fire crews say trains are delaying response time - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Hopewell Fire crews say trains are delaying response time


Hopewell Fire crews are concerned about your safety, because they say train tracks are slowing down their response to calls for help.

Crews say there’s been an increase in train routes in the last year - sometimes blocking all three exits of the fire station. The Chief is now patiently awaiting the city to take action.

Take a visit to the current Hopewell Fire Station and you'll likely see it for yourself.

"It happens probably several times a day, anywhere from two to three times a day…We do get blocked by all three entrances of the station. Sometimes it usually lasts two to three minutes, sometimes it's four to five,” says Fire Chief Donald Hunter.

Increased train traffic sometimes means a three-mile detour just to get to a neighbor in need. It's why the fire department is awaiting a new fire station at a new location. Talks of new fire and police buildings have been on the table since 2012.

"The police department is very crowded," City Manager Mark Haley added.

So NBC 12 asked what the holdup is.

"We have to make a decision now about funding the missing element,” Haley said.

It would take some $13 million to construct the two buildings. The city has about half of that, which technically means it could get started on the police station, but...

"We'd like to see them both be on parallel tracks, rather than one being ahead of the other," Haley said about the two projects.

Right now, the city is behind on completing a financial audit. After that, Haley would like to obtain a $6 million loan in order to get both projects underway. Once construction starts, it could take two years before they're open for business.

Chief Hunter will be patiently waiting - even when he notices the growing train traffic outside his office.

"We just know the more times it’s occurring, the more probability it is we’re going to get stopped by a train…We have to be able to get out to get to the citizens in their time of need," he said.

City Council is expected to decide how to move forward by the Summer. 

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