New fire station to be built at The Bluffs _lowres

Advocate photo by HOWARD ARCENEAUX -- West Feliciana Fire Chief James Wood.

Thanks to an innovative partnership between the West Feliciana Fire Protection District 1 and the parish’s hospital, a new fire station soon will be constructed near The Bluffs.

The fire protection district is a mostly volunteer organization that serves the unincorporated areas of the parish, providing fire protection and emergency services.

A bid for $649,000 by Blount General Contractors of Walker has been accepted to build the 4,664-square-foot fire station, and the final plans were approved by the fire district’s and the hospital’s boards of commissioners.

The station will include a 2,500-square-foot engine bay for two fire trucks and an ambulance. It also will have two separate living quarters, both slightly more than 1,000 square feet. Construction is expected to begin this month with a completion date of Aug. 15.

“The Fire Department had been trying to get it built for about 10 years,” Fire Chief James Wood said. “The Property Insurance Association of Louisiana has rated us as Class 5 on a 10-point scale and told us we needed a station in The Bluffs area because the other stations are too far away.”

The property for the station, about a half-acre, was donated by Bluffs owner Claude Penn, near the entrance sign at the development’s front entrance off La. 965.

Wood said the station will serve The Bluffs and the surrounding area.

There are 10 stations in the district, another one in St. Francisville and one at Angola.

The construction cost for the new station will be shared between the hospital and the Fire Department.

“It’s beneficial for both of us cost-wise instead of buying two of everything and duplicating facilities and services,” Wood said. “It’s using the public’s funds more wisely.”

Hospital administrator Lee Chastain agreed the arrangement is a win-win and ultimately benefits the parish.

“First off, this shows when two agencies pool their resources, they can pull off good things,” Chastain said. “It also shows the fire district and hospital look to the future.”

Wood and Chastain said the station will be supplied with equipment and vehicles already in hand. It also will be staffed depending on budgetary considerations.

“It will be there when we need it, and we’ll staff it on a periodic basis,” Chastain said.

When the district’s rating is reviewed in fall 2015, Wood said the new station could give residents in the area the potential to see lower property insurance rates. He said the two entities also are working on a similar station project for the Wakefield area that’s in the planning stage.

“We’re both in the business of saving lives and giving good care to the people of the parish,” Chastain said. “We have to be strategic in how we do that.”