SCOTT — The Scott Police and Fire departments have moved into a spacious new emergency operations center next to City Hall — an 18,000-square-foot facility that officials say offers room to grow over the next three decades.
The departments began moving in to their new home last month, and city officials held an opening ceremony this week.
The Fire Department had been in a small, aging station, and the Police Department had been cramped into Scott’s old City Hall.
Police Chief Chad Leger said the new $3.5 million building has more than twice the space for his 25-employee force and a few resources the department had been lacking, such as a soundproof interview room equipped with audio and video equipment and a detention area.
The Police Department’s side of the building also has two extra offices and space to add another six or eight people in the patrol officers work area to accommodate future growth of the department, Leger said.
On the other side of the building, the Fire Department has a 6,900-square-foot equipment bay plus about 4,000-square feet filled with offices, a conference room, a dormitory and a large kitchen.
Scott is served by a volunteer fire department, but the facility is suitable for a full-time department if the city moves in that direction in the future, said Fire Chief Chad Sonnier.
“This building was built for 30 years, for the long haul,” Sonnier said a crowd of more than 100 residents who turned out Thursday to tour the new facility.
Between the fire and police sections of the building is a 760-square-foot bunker with 1-foot thick concrete walls where emergency officials can oversee the response to a hurricane or other disaster, said Assistant Police Chief Kert Thomas.
The Police Department has a secondary dispatch system in the bunker and special computer systems have been installed to help monitor and manage hurricanes and other disasters, such as train derailment or a major chemical spill on Interstate 10 through Scott.
“From here, we can monitor everything that’s going on,” Thomas said. “It’s a safe haven for us.”
Scott Mayor Purvis Morrison said in prior hurricanes, Scott had no centralized and secure area where city officials and emergency responders could gather to coordinate a response.
“It will help us to make sure that in an emergency we have the facilities to keep our citizens safe,” Morrison said of the new building.
The emergency operations center had its origins in 2006, when Sonnier and Leger approached then-Mayor Hazel Myers about the need for new facilities.
The council approved the project.
The state appropriated about $1.8 million for the project and Scott funded the other half.
Construction began in April 2010.