The new Bonne Terre fire station is nearing completion as workers tie up loose ends and put final touches on the building.
The building was officially donated to the department by Sharo Shirshekan on Monday.
As of Wednesday, paint was still drying on the floor of the bays. Ten inches of concrete now make up the floor which was once a wood floor basketball court. The building had once been a gymnasium for the North Country School District.
The station’s crew of 28 volunteer firefighters have planned a building dedication and ribbon cutting for Aug. 10 at 10 a.m. At the dedication ceremony, a new fire truck will be christened and the public will be able to take tours of the station.
Fire Chief David Pratte said just outside the station will be a fallen firefighter and police officer memorial park area with benches, flag pole, and a large bell.
Hung throughout the new station will be a lot of old pictures, plaques and other displays that preserve the history of the department. Various displays in the remodeled facility also pay tribute to the history of the building. The original basketball goals remain in place and the centerline of the court is preserved and hangs on the wall in the truck bay. Firefighters even used some of the original wood flooring pieces to craft a large table for the station’s day room.
Just beside the new day room is a central control room where radios, computers, and other communication equipment will be located.
Some of the other welcomed upgrades for the new station include larger bay ports. Pratte said the old station on Division Street was much smaller and the bay ports could not accommodate larger trucks. The department is getting a new ladder truck and Pratte said it would have never fit in the old station.
Other upgrades for the fire department that come with the new station include a training facility which Pratte explained will help lower insurance costs. The training room will be dedicated to former Bonne Terre Fire Chief Butch Keen.
“We also have an upgraded kitchen in the new station and a day area for the firefighters,” Pratte said. “We have showers now which we didn’t have in the other station.”
The chief explained that the showers are critical for the firefighters.
“When they come in from a call, they can shower off any cancer-causing agents so they don’t take them home to their families,” said Pratte.
There are also exhaust systems for removing diesel fumes emitted by the trucks which the old station does not have. “It’s all about health and safety with this new station,” Pratte said.
The station can also double as a shelter in emergency situations. A large bi-fold partition can be extended across the truck bays, essential splitting the building into two separate sections to house equipment and people should they ever need to do so.
Pratte said that this is just an unbelievable blessing for the department and the community as a whole.
“Everything that comes with [the station] is going to help get our ISO rating down which will lower insurance costs,” explained Pratte.“This station is really going to help the performance of the firefighters in getting out to perform rescues.
“We are so blessed,” said the chief. “Mr. Sharo has helped us with this but he doesn’t want any credit and said that it’s a gift from God.
“As a firefighter in this community, it’s hard to grasp what’s been handed to us here. It’s more than we could have ever asked for.”