Construction of new fire station on Airport Road underway _lowres

Location of new fire station

St. Tammany Fire Protection District No. 1 broke ground on its eighth fire station last week, and fire officials said the new location at Airport Road and Meadows Boulevard will shorten response times and could help lower insurance premiums in that area.

The $1.4 million project, which has been planned for years, was delayed in part by Hurricane Katrina, Fire Chief Chris Kaufman said.

St. Tammany Parish Councilman Steve Stefancik said he has been pushing for a fire station in the area since 1996.

The new station will house two firefighting units and will have at least five firefighters. Construction will likely be finished next fall, spokesman Chad Duffaut said.

The fire district has had a temporary station at nearby Camp Villere since November 2014, Kaufman said. In 2015, that station handled two structure fires, eight vehicle fires and 133 rescue or emergency medical service calls.

Besides shortening the response time in the Airport Road area, the new station will also help cut time off calls along U.S. 11 since a new road, the T.J. Smith Sr. Memorial Expressway, now connects Airport Road and U.S. 11, Kaufman said.

The fire district is working to lower its insurance rating from a 3 to a 2, officials said, and the new station will help achieve that goal. That could lower premiums by $200 to $400 for each property owner, Duffaut said.

A lower fire rating also helps economic development, Kaufman said, because developers consider the cost of fire insurance in deciding where to build. The new station and an improved rating could help bring industry and manufacturing to vacant land along the new expressway, he said.

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