The Woodward News

Local News

August 5, 2013

Firefighters await more space with new station

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — NEED ADDED SPACE FOR ADDED PERSONNEL

But it's not just the vehicles that are overflowing at the current station.

"Look around and you'll see how much our personnel has outgrown the place, there are racks all over the place," Firefighter Ryan Johannesmeyer said.

There are so many new personnel that some guys are having to store their bunker gear on hooks in a back hallway because there's just no more room in the main equipment bay.

Even those who have their gear in the right spot, are having to cram it into spots behind vehicles or on the side walls.

Proposed blueprints for the new station has separate bunker gear storage rooms, located in an area between the drive-through bays and rear-entry bays.  These storage rooms will not only help to make all the firefighters' gear more accessible, but should also help better protect the gear from unnecessary wear.

With their gear currently stored in the same garage bays as the fire vehicles, Firefighter Bobby McDowell said, "The exhaust off the trucks will break bunker gear down quicker."

And it's not just gear that the department is struggling to find place for, they are also trying to just find places for the firefighters and staff themselves.

In 2006, Woodward Fire Department had a total staff of 31 men, with 19 paid personnel and 12 volunteers.  However, after adding more firefighters over the past few years, the department now has a total of 43 personnel with 25 paid guys and 18 volunteers.  The 25 paid employees include 4 administrative positions in addition to 21 firefighters, who are split up into 3 crews of 7 men each that work 48-hour shifts.

Currently every firefighter, other than the 3 shift captains, share one large room for their sleeping quarters. This means there are 18 twin-sized beds in one room, where each firefighter has little more than a foot around his individual bed for personal space.  While there may not be more than a few guys sharing the sleeping quarters at any one time, it still doesn't offer a lot of privacy or comfort in their "home away from home."

Plans for the new station splits up the sleeping quarters into 7 separate rooms with only 3 beds in each.  There are also 3 staff bathrooms, where now the guys have to share one.

"We just have no personal space," Firefighter Cody Foster said.  "There's only the one bathroom for everyone.  So only one shower and one toilet.  That means when you have 7 guys coming in from a big structure fire and everybody smells like buffalos, we can only shower one guy at a time."

And just like with the vehicles, the current station doesn't have room for all the staff.  The fire administrative offices are now split up between 3 buildings, with the fire chief and secretary at the station, the assistant fire chief in the nearby City Hall, and the public education officer still in the Code Enforcement building a couple of blocks north on 9th St.

"The new station will bring all the administrative offices together as well," Day said.

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