Fire station damage affecting response times

(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - As homeowners continue to clean up after major flooding this month, cities are assessing damage to their buildings also.

The flood significantly damaged the Pocahontas Fire Department Station 2 at the airport. It got between 6 and 8 inches of water inside.

The crew that's usually at Station 2 would likely be the first to respond to an emergency on the east side of town, but right now they can't work out of that building.

"We normally staff this station, we've moved that to our older station that was only staffed during the day, and that's become living quarters for full-timers," Fire Chief Darrel Kester said.

That older fire station is on the west side of town, which can hinder them getting to a scene quickly, especially with the Black Rock Bridge currently reduced to two lanes.

"You're looking at probably a 3 to 5 minute increased response time, provided there's not an issue on the bridge itself," Kester said. "We have already had at least two different instances where a wreck on the bridge itself completely locked traffic. We were able to respond well with that because we could bring an engine from each side with the tools we needed. Now that might be more of a problem."

The damaged building has already been gutted and Kester thinks the rebuild will start within a week.

"It's gotten to be a lot more extensive project than we originally thought," Kester said.

The estimated cost was around $30,000 in the beginning, but unexpected issues have now pushed that number higher.

The department is able to save some money by having firefighters do a lot of the work themselves, though.

Kester does not have a set timeline of when crews will be back at Station 2.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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