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Houston County Courier - Local News

Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company

Crockett fire station receiving make-over
Houston County Courier


By Jenna Duncan
News Reporter

Just a year ago, the CrockettFire Department interior was deteriorating. Nicotine-stained ceiling tiles, missing floor tiles and old wall paint marked the first floor of the building, then the only usablearea of the building.“It was disgraceful in here,” Fire Chief John Angersteinsaid. “Our hands were kind of tied because of all the leaks we had, and it cost us over $30,000 to have a roofing company come in and put a new roof on, so it was useless for us to do all this work until we could get the roof repaired.”Once the roof was replaced,repairs started immediately.The firefighters themselves worked to clean up the scuffed floors with heavy duty cleaning products,repainted the walls and replaced the ceiling tiles among other things.“The ceilings are about 20 shades whiter than it was, it was just nicotine stained, the ceilings were a yellowishbrown,” Angerstein said. “That brightened the place up tremendously.”The downstairs renovationsare part of a bigger clean up of the station, that has now traveled upstairs.Two years ago, the upstairssection of the building that is 900 square feet, was completely gutted but sat idle because of “a lack of funds, ambition and time” Angerstein said.The sheetrock was rotted, the studs covered in rust, and the firefighters removed dumpsters full of dilapidatedmaterials until the space was down to the brick exteriorwall.“I think we caught it in time,” Angerstein said of the building. “By getting the roof replaced, we caught all the rust and stuff from stopping from continuing to destroy the building. Otherwisewe would have been in terrible shape if we would have let it go.”About two months ago, the firefighters began buildingthe space back up again to make a livable area with the guidance of Angerstein, who previously worked in construction. Two or three hours a day, the firefighters will come and help with the laboring of installing insulationand putting up walls, without additional salary.“The guys have been prettyopen-minded and they see that sometimes you have to think outside the box to get what you want done,” he said. “With a limited budget you don’t have the money to hire somebody to do everything,so you need to see where you can fill in and make things work.”Angerstein is making the most of this budget, and not hiring a contractor will save the department and city roughly 60 percent of the costs. Aside from the work that was required to be contracted out - plumbing and electricity - they have only spent $800.When the project is completed, which Angerstein hopes will be by the end of the year, it will function mainly as a living area. After walking up the stairs, the room opens up to what will be a dayroom, with a kitchen and dining area behind. To the left, there’s a room for storage and office space, a bathroom, then the living quarters.By having the new space, Angerstein said he hopes to be able to have a firefighter on site at all times, something the department has never done before.He cited how the lack of space causes problems during extended incidents and extreme weather, and said during the wildfire last year firefighters were sleeping on the floor.“The whole plan of the project and pushing this is, all the guys are behind us 100 percent for getting this done, is where somewhere in the near future we can start using this space and having 24-hour coverage,” he said.Having someone in house while on call would mean fasterresponse times, and the two options Angerstein is consideringhaving 24-hour shifts, or having live in firefighters. In exchange for free housing at the station, they would be on call for the fire department overnight.“It’s an alternative way of trying to get the job done withouthaving to pay someone,” Angerstein explained. “This is going to be their primary residence, so that’s why I wanted to have a kitchen, have a dayroom area where they can have a tv and some couches and to where we can try to expand on that live-in program.”The concept of comfortable couches and an area for a TV have already been implemented downstairs, where the lobby doubles as a hangout spot for the firefighters.“It’s all a brotherhood as it is. The guys do stuff together; they always hang out,” Angerstein said. “So if they have somewhere to come work out together and sit down and watch TV together - watch some sports or something - anythingto draw them into the fire station, is going to help us on our response times. So they’re closer, and the more I can do here, the better we’re going to be able to respond and the better the morale is going to be for the guys.”The morale of the department is at an all-time high, and they are taking pride in the building’s appearance and their own. The department recently began wearing Class A uniformsfor special events, that are full-detailed down to the belt and shoes.While there is still a lot of work to do before the upstairs is completed and even minor details downstairs like replacingthe orange countertop, Angerstein said with the help of the other 22 firefighters, it will get done.“We have work ahead of us - just a little,” Angerstein said. “All the guys, we all enjoy each other’s company and like working together and they see this as a chance to move down the road and be able to do better things, so they’re willing to work.”


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