TUPELO – City officials dedicated a new $1 million fire station Friday afternoon to a crowd of more than 100 people gathered in the sweltering heat.
Firefighters, police officers, elected leaders and civilians fanned themselves during the 15-minute ceremony inside the open bay of Fire Station No. 4.
“This is an important station,” said Mayor Jack Reed Jr. to the crowd. “It will provide better, quick response to this part of town.”
Work began last year on the two-story brick building, which sits on North Gloster Street just south of the U.S. Highway 78 overpass. It replaces the station’s former site inside an aging structure on Rial Drive, right off Lakeshire Drive.
That station was deemed too far from the rapidly developing Barnes Crossing shopping district with its numerous retail and dining establishments. The new station is within a seconds-drive from the heart of the district.
Its opening is a key factor in helping the city achieve a lower fire insurance rating. Tupelo currently has a Class 5 rating from the state but wants a Class 4. The lower the class, the better the protection and the cheaper the insurance rates offered to homes and businesses within the city.
Tupelo still needs to erect a new water tower on the west side of town before it can achieve a Class 4.
After speeches by Reed, City Council President Fred Pitts and Tupelo Fire Chief Thomas Walker, people were free to tour the 5,347-square-foot station. It features downstairs living quarters with a full kitchen and an upstairs sleeping quarter.
It’s the only station in Tupelo with a pole.
“We’re tickled to death to be in it,” Walker said.
Firefighters officially moved into the station two weeks ago, even though the dedication didn’t happen until Friday. The old station now will house city records.
“It’s nice,” said Kelly Monts, a firefighter assigned to Station No. 4. “It has been chaotic getting moved in, though – kind of like moving into a new house.”
Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal