Oxford seeks funds to replace fire stations

OXFORD – Two aging fire stations could be consolidated into one new one if Oxford Fire Department is awarded a $1.95 million Homeland Security grant.
If the application is successful, Fire Station No. 1, on North Lamar Boulevard at Price Street, and Fire Station No. 2, on Washington Avenue at Jackson Avenue, would be combined in a new building halfway between – on Molly Barr Road at Price. The competitive federal grant is intended for “shovel ready” projects, and Oxford officials have looked toward such a consolidation for several years.
“We’d already had plans to build the station,” said Fire Chief Mike Hill. “One of the purposes of these grants is to begin work immediately. It’ll get people to work – not firefighters, but carpenters and plumbers and electricians.”
The city will have an answer by December whether its application is being approved, Hill said.
Why give up two stations to get one?
Present No. 1 station “has outlived its useful life,” Hill said. “It was designed for four or five people to work out of, and about 16 people work out of it every day.” Station No. 2 is also obsolete both in size and design.
As envisioned, the new No. 1 station would have offices and dormitory space along with four drive-through truck bays.
“You just don’t want to have to back a fire truck if you can avoid it,” Hill said.
Oxford currently has four fire stations. Station 3, built in 2001, serves the southeast quadrant from Highway 7, and Station 4, built last year, is just off West Jackson Avenue. After the two oldest stations are consolidated, another will be built – Hill hopes sooner than later – on the east side of town, “perhaps over in the Conference Center area or on University Avenue,” he said.
The University of Mississippi owns the site of the current Station No. 2, across Jackson Avenue from the university’s Sorority Row entrance, but Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson said it’s too early for any serious debate about how to use the present Station 1 site, which is a buffer between one of the city’s most historic residential neighborhoods and a commercial zone to the north.
“Let’s get the grant first,” he said.

Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

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