They had a tough job with Hurricane Isaac, and now a fire department in St. Tammany Parish is going through another challenge of their own.
Fire Protection District 1, in Slidell, lost Station #14 last weekend to a fire. Today, the wood is still crackling, the smoldering smell still lingers and the remnants of the station, based in the CrossGates area, are still piled high.
The fire sparked from an electrical outlet in the engine bay. One firefighter was at the station at the time, and found out about the fire after a TV plugged into that outlet fell to the ground. The damage could be at least $230,000 and it’s something Fire Chief Larry Hess is having to deal with just weeks after being inundated with Hurricane Isaac emergencies.
He said, “We felt that we had done a good job during the Hurricane Isaac episode and then turn around and, boom, late Saturday morning we caught this."
Not only was the building burned, a truck, with a mile of hose in the back, went up too. It was used to help firefighters combat a common problem in St. Tammany Parish, which is not enough fire hydrants.
But Hess says he’ll take all the damage without a complaint, because it means he still has all of his firefighters.
"I'm just very thankful to God that this wasn't 2:30 in the morning when right up against the wall of the bay is the bunkroom where the crew sleeps," he said.
In about a week, the firefighters for this fire station will be back in the area in a trailer on the property next door to assure the community it will be taken care of.
Hess said, "Station 14 is a well-situated, well-located station, so we will still be a part of this neighborhood."
The chief hopes to have the burned building torn down by the middle of next month and a new station up and running in eight months.