Oxford fire station ahead of schedule

town_oxford_greenBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

OXFORD – The future Fire Station 1 is on track to open ahead of schedule, and department personnel are understandably eager to move in.

The facility on McElroy Drive will replace the current Station 1 on North Lamar, adding a gym, expanded living space and four truck bays in place of the three in the existing station. The new pull-through bays also will be faster and safer for returns after emergency runs.

“We’re anxious to get in there,” Oxford Fire Chief Cary Sallis said. “We’re ready for it. It’s a lot of anticipation.”

The contract completion date is Dec. 2, but Sallis said work has progressed far faster than expected.

“They were talking at one time about finishing in September or even August, but our hopeful goal is sometime in October,” he said.

Locating the station farther from downtown was a purposeful choice, following both a pattern of growth and avoiding most runs through the Square.

Airport fire protection will move to the new station, which will have a road straight to the runway, which sometimes handles 150 to 200 planes on football weekends.

When the new fire station opens, both current Station 1 and Station 2, which sits near the corner of Washington and Jackson Avenues, will close. Station 2’s crew will move to Station 4 at the west end of the University of Mississippi campus.

The new Station 1 will mean fire crews are stationed in the west, northwest and southeast portions of the city. Plans are already under way for another facility covering the northeast portion, near Oxford Conference Center.

Oxford’s first dedicated emergency operations center will share Station 1’s McElroy Drive site.

“It’s going to offer a lot,” said city Emergency Management Director Jimmy Allgood. “The entire communications room is networked for the flow of information in and out. The Operations Room is for the policy-making group – department heads, fire and police chiefs, mayor and board of aldermen.”

Equipped with its own generator and redundant communications, the building can also accommodate state and federal emergency officials in case of an areawide disaster.

“It’s a first not only for Oxford and Lafayette County but for all of North Mississippi,” Allgood said. “Plus, the entire facility is rated for an F5 tornado. Even in a direct hit, that facility should be operational.”

errol.castens@journalinc.com