DONALDSONVILLE — The new fire station in Donaldsonville that opened just weeks ago somehow looks like it's always been there on the main route into the city from Sunshine Bridge.

The architect, after much research,  selected the red and beige bricks for the 10,000-square-foot station to fit in with the historical old buildings found in the west-bank city's downtown.

But the station, which will have its ribbon-cutting in early December, is also everything a modern-day fire station is supposed to be.

"The new fire station gives our department a great home and allows us to grow in the future," said Adam Gautreaux, acting fire chief of  the Donaldsonville Fire Department. "The previous fire chiefs did a fantastic job planning and designing the station."

Gautreaux's role as acting chief follows the recent retirement of Chief James MacDonald.

The new station's bay area for the fire engines could house  the entirety of the former station on Lafourche Street near downtown Donaldsonville that the fire department had long outgrown, Assistant Fire Chief Travis Cedotal said.

The new station houses five engines, including the department's 100-foot aerial ladder truck, which had previously been kept at the ready in a warehouse.

The bay doors at the old location, built in 1960, hadn't been high enough for it to fit in the old station.

A reserve engine and a "third-out" engine, for major fires, will still be housed at the old station, Cedotal said.

The department has welcomed the new facility as it seeks to meet the growing demand for both firefighting and medical response calls on the west bank.

"In 2004, we had 550 calls a year; today, we have 1,600," Cedotal said.

The new station has two bunk rooms, instead of the previous small sleeping area, and a larger, more comfortable living area, as well as a conference and training room.

"It's definitely everything the guys need," Capt. Jonathan Comeaux said. "It feels like home."

The department's staff of 30 paid and volunteer firefighters provides fire protection for the city of Donaldsonville and the west bank of Ascension Parish. The department also has three, smaller outlying stations on the west bank.

The city started planning for a new station in Donaldsonville almost 20 years ago, when voters approved a 5-mill, 10-year property tax for the $2 million project and then renewed it three times — in 2002, 2012 and 2018.

The last renewal, in March of 2018, was passed by 89 percent of Donaldsonville voters.

"It's a good feeling for the tax to pass overwhelmingly," Mayor Leroy Sullivan said at the time. "It lets me and the council know the people in the community trust and believe in what we're trying to do: bring the citizens of Donaldsonville and the fire station into the future."

Firefighter Jonathan Reynolds said, "It's humbling to be given something like this to work out of."

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