New Hahnville fire station opens today with tours, dance

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 26, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / February 26, 2000

HAHNVILLE – Fire protection services in St. Charles Parish have a new crownjewel – the new Hahnville Volunteer Fire Department station on River Road.

Chief Reggie Gaubert announced this week that grand opening and public tours of the station begin today at 10 a.m. with a flag-raising ceremony bythe Hahnville High ROTC unit. A jambalaya lunch will also be served, and tourswill continue until 2 p.m.A community dance is also planned at 8 tonight.

It’s not the festivities surrounding this new station which make it a crown jewel. It’s the farsighted thinking in its planning.The 7,500-square-foot building, 2,000 of it on its second floor, includes a radio room, conference room, sleeping quarters and showers in all four of its restrooms.

Situated on a two-acre site at 14890 River Road, the HVFD station does not replace the present station on Lincoln Street in Hahnville, Gaubert stressed.

It will, though, add to the fire protection of the Hahnville area and become more of an asset for other departments in the parish.

“With Avalon and Fashion Terrace subdivisions, we needed another station on this end to maintain our Class 4 fire insurance rating,” the chief said, adding the department plans to be operating out of the new station in early March.

The station was a year in the planning, during which architect Glenn Higgins was brought in to help in its development. The site was bought two years agofor $60,000, and the station itself cost $690,000 for M&H Construction, Vacherie, to build.

Construction contracts were signed in February 1999, and it took almost exactly a year to complete.

“We signed substantial completion on Feb. 22,” Gaubert said.The site itself has certain advantages, the chief pointed out, with an access ramp to the Mississippi River levee behind the station in case River Road is impassable for any reason. “That was a big plus,” he said.The project was financed through the 1991 fire protection millage approved by parish voters, out of which the HVFD set aside $450,000. The remainderis paid for out of a low-interest loan from First National Bank USA.

“Our intention is to have it paid off soon, and we’ll own it outright,” Gaubert added.

The station’s bays are large enough to house four 100-foot ladder trucks or six fire engines in it, but for now the building will house one engine and a hose tender. It may also soon house the Parish Emergency Operations mobileoperation van.

The building itself, with its uneven roof line, is actually built for the future with all utilities capped on the side, so if the building is expanded on the downriver side the utilities can be tapped into, from sewerage to air conditioning.

The bay area is also equipped with drop-down air compressor hoses for the engines’ air brakes. Normally, Gaubert explained, air brakes bleed down and itcan take a minute or so to bring the brakes up to the proper pressure before the truck rolls.

With the setup here, once a truck is parked the hose is hooked up to maintain pressure. When the ignition is turned the hoses are kicked out andthe truck can immediately roll, shaving precious seconds off response time.

The driveway for the station allows trucks to drive around back and pull into the station, pointed in the right direction to hit River Road in seconds.

“There won’t be any backing onto River Road,” the chief said.

Hahnville’s fire department was established in 1967, and four original members remain active. There are 35 members on the roster, and 23 ofthese are active in firefighting.

“We’re always looking for more,” Gaubert said, stressing that is one of the purposes of the open house.

Gaubert, who began as a firefighter in the Luling department in 1972, became chief at Hahnville in 1986.

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