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New fire station brings Airmen into 21st century

Senior Airmen Travis Paxton (left) and Garcia Tarver, both firefighters from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron, play pool in the recreation room at the new fire station here Monday. The new station's amenities make life and work more bearable for the firefighters who are on duty for 24-hour shifts.  (Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones)

Senior Airmen Travis Paxton (left) and Garcia Tarver, both firefighters from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron, play pool in the recreation room at the new fire station here Monday. The new station's amenities make life and work more bearable for the firefighters who are on duty for 24-hour shifts. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn J. Jones)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Firefighters here can finally get some sleep.

Bunk rooms, high-end mattresses and a more discretionary public-announce system are just a few of the quality-of-life and operational upgrades that bring Seymour Johnson's new fire station up to date with today's firefighting culture and technology.

"This station is so far advanced compared to the old one, it's unbelievable," said Tom Wade, Chief of Fire Emergency Services. "It allows us to be a fire department of the 21st century."

Firefighters, who typically work a 24-hour shift, need to ensure they catch some shut-eye at some point in their day. The new bunk rooms are a featured improvement over the open-bay beds of the old station, which was built in 1956.

The rooms have a bed, nightstand, desk and cable TV and some are equipped with personal computers.

The new top-of-the-line beds, in particular, have made a positive impression on some of the Airmen who spend 50 percent of their life at the station.

"They are the best beds you could possibly want to sleep in," said Airman 1st Class Daniel Stroup, a firefighter.

Each room also has a public-announce system that will only page a firefighter if his crew is needed. In the old station firefighters could count on being awakened several times a night for matters that did not concern them.

Another quality-of-life upgrade is a recreation room with a full-sized pool table, kitchenette, cable TV and a video game area.

A fitness room, approximately five times larger than its predecessor at the old station, contains free weights and cardiovascular equipment to help the firefighters stay in shape while still remaining available for emergencies.

The fire station wasn't just built to make Airmen more comfortable. It will also help to make them more effective at fighting fires and responding to emergencies.

A new emergency control center was built within the station. The ECC is the nerve center of emergency-response coordination. It is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including touch- screens monitors, ergonomically-friendly dispatch consoles and cordless headset for the operators.

To improve communication with emergency responders in the surrounding community, the new ECC allows for radio frequency sharing with Goldsboro's police and fire departments, the Wayne County sheriff's office and the 4th Security Forces Squadron. The ECCs role in emergency coordination requires that it be a safe and secure location.

To accommodate that requirement, it is equipped with hurricane shutters, fortified walls and 360 degree-viewing security cameras.

The new station has also doubled the amount of parking stalls available for the department's vehicles, which means they stay indoors, reducing upkeep and maintenance costs.

Washing the trucks can now be done within the station, which is much more convenient than taking the trucks to the wash rack or using a garden hose, as was often done at the old station, said Airman Stroup.

Overall, the station's upgrades are not taken for granted.

"It raises morale because it is a much nicer place to work," Airman Stroup said.
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