Making progress
Fire chief shares hopes for the new central station

Published 5:17 pm Monday, September 27, 2021

During a hard hat tour of the new Danville Fire Department Central Fire Station under construction next to City Hall on Main Street, Fire Chief Doug Simpson, City Engineer Josh Morgan, and some of the Marrillia Design and Construction crew showed how the building is coming along.

“It’s an awesome space,” Simpson said. “We’re just excited about it.”

Completion of the new central fire station is anticipated to be April 2022.

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The group went through the underground tunnel connecting Danville City Hall to the new fire station, which includes a storm shelter. Morgan said the tunnel will be useful for information technology staff to navigate easily between the buildings, and a lot of servers will be located there.

Simpson said the hope is that in the future, perhaps several years from now, the tunnel could be the site of an emergency operation center for the whole county. If there were an emergency, civic leaders from around the county could come together and be on one secure network, he said.

As he showed the room where administrative offices will be located, Simpson said the construction crew plans to start putting the roof on the administration part of the building in a couple of weeks, so hopefully by the winter, the construction crew can do inside work and less work outdoors during the harsh, cold months.

In a training room area, which Simpson said can seat about 40 people and will be where large sessions, Zoom sessions and other training can take place, Simpson said, “This is going to be one of the regional places that we want people to come from the state … to do statewide training.”

Right now, the fire department doesn’t have the capabilities to host regional training.

“And very few people in the state really do, so this will put us on the forefront,” Simpson said.

One aim with the building is for it to be well-lit — a bright, vibrant space, including in its front reception area.

“That’s what we want —good, positive energy,” Simpson said.

There will be 10 dorm rooms with three beds in each dorm room and a day room area, where firefighters can decompress at the end of their days.

As for how this building compares to the current central fire station building, which dates back to the 1960s, Simpson said overall, all facilities will be upgraded in the new building, and there will also be the addition of a decontamination room. Sometimes firefighters are exposed not only to chemical contamination, but also bedbugs and other insect infestations, blood, and other forms of contamination. They don’t currently have a designated space for decontamination, and the decontamination room will allow staff to get back from runs, go into the rooms, decontaminate themselves and change into clean uniforms. Each firefighter has two sets of turnout gear for that reason.

“Having a state-of-the-art facility like this is really going to make our staff members more safe, and hopefully their families as well,” Simpson said.

Another safety improvement, Simpson said, will be that trucks will no longer need to back into the fire station, like they do at the current central fire station. The new station will feature a drive-through area where trucks will drive into the back of the building and pull in. Parking will also be behind the building.

Simpson described the set-up at the current station, where trucks need to back in from off the street, as one of the most dangerous parts about the job.

“We have near-misses all the time over there,” he said.