South Boston Fire Department in need of expansion

Fire chief wants to add new bays, new sleeping quarters

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. – The firetrucks and other emergency vehicles at the South Boston Fire Department barely fit inside the building.


"We're just totally out of space. As time goes on, the trucks themselves get longer, a little bit bigger," South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips said.


Aside from housing the increasingly large vehicles, Phillips said getting them in and out is also a challenge and that creates a safety issue.


He would like to have two drive-through bays.


"We could actually bring trucks around to the back lot and drive through the building rather than backing in off the street," Phillips explained. "We've had some near-misses out here."


Space for the firefighters is also an issue.


Currently, the firefighters sleep on the second floor of the building.


They have to go down several flights of steps to get to the trucks.


That not only takes time, but puts firefighters at risk of falling down the stairs and getting hurt.


"That's another safety issue that we would definitely take a look at, adding on the sleeping quarters downstairs," Phillips said.


All of this, plus the new truck the fire department will need in a couple of years, is expected to cost a little $1 million.


South Boston Town Manager Tom Raab said which of the fire department's needs will be addressed first has yet to be determined.


"Last work session, we came here to the fire department and found out what they need. We've been to the police station. We're going to public works and talk with them. We're also going to the rec department," Raab said.


He hopes to be able to sit down with town council members in December and start reviewing each department's needs.


Luckily, a tax increase may not be needed in order to address the needs.


"We've been fortunate. The economy is up, there's no doubt about it, and that helps us," Raab said.

He says the needs will be budgeted for over several years, with at least $1 million set aside each year to meet the needs.

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