Fire station upgrades allow all-day service

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 2, 2010



LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish leaders joined parish fire department officials Friday morning to celebrate the newly completed renovations to the Walnut Street fire station in eastern LaPlace.

The renovations, which include expanded living and sleeping quarters, allow the station to be manned by parish firefighters 24 hours a day, said LaPlace Fire Chief John Snyder. Snyder said the Walnut Street station, located at 801 Walnut St., was the last of five stations in LaPlace to be configured for 24-hour staffing.

“The station was originally built in 1969, and it was renovated in the 1980s to add a restroom, shower area and generator room so that it could be staffed at least 12 hours,” Snyder said. “With this renovation, we moved the generator outside and expanded the existing room to add two beds and a little more furniture.”

Although all five stations are configured for 24-hour staffing, Snyder said the parish only has enough personnel to staff three stations full time, with one of them being the Walnut Street station. The other 24-hour stations are in the Belle Terre and Belle Pointe subdivisions. He said the fire department currently has 18 paid firefighters and about 30 volunteers.

“Each of the three 24-hour stations are staffed at all times with two paid firefighters that operate on three shifts,” Snyder said. “The volunteers are spread evenly throughout those stations as well as the other two stations in the area.”

Parish President Natalie Robottom said the $16,000 renovation project was a joint operation between the parish public works department, the fire department and Edgard Remodeling. She said the fire department provided the funding and the parish provided the manpower. She said Edgard Remodeling handled what could not be done in-house.

“We are still going out for bids on many projects, but if there are opportunities where we can do some of these things in-house and expedite the process, we will certainly do it,” Robottom said.

Robottom said the parish pushed to renovate the Walnut Street station because it offers expanded service to the eastern half of LaPlace. She said an increase in homes and traffic in the area has made it a necessity.

“It makes me feel safer,” said Minnette Montegut, who lives and works just down the street from the Walnut Street Station. “There are more people living back in this area, and this station will take the strain off other stations.

Snyder said the expanded services willbring fire response times down from six to eight minutes to three to four minutes.