West Point’s new fire station and community shelter officially open for business



After the official ribbon cutting, the firefighters held their own opening ceremony: a firehose cutting with the jaws of life. July 15, 2017/ W.C. Mann

WEST POINT – After years of planning, the town of West Point finally got the fire station it wanted.  Accompanied by representatives of the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce and Cullman County dignitaries including Commissioners Garry Marchman and Kerry Watson, Sheriff Matt Gentry, Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Good Hope and West Point Mayor Kenneth Kilgo, Fire Chief Tim Martin and members of West Point Fire & Rescue cut the ribbon to open their new station and community shelter on Alabama Highway 157.

Martin talked about the station and the long road to its construction.

“We had a chance to build a new station in 2004,” said Martin. “Just like with this, the town was going to provide us with some land; but in looking at everything, the land just wasn’t in the right location.  We didn’t want to make the mistake, just because we had some land, of building a station just to have one.

“It’s been a long time coming.  Construction’s been going on for about a year.  The design and planning’s been six, eight, or 10 years; we been really trying to figure out what we want to do.”

The new facility takes the place of the old station house located near West Point High School.  Asked what the new station and location will allow the fire department to do, the chief responded with a smile, “What won’t it let us do?  That’s the thing.  The department had outgrown that station years ago.  This station will allow us to expand into the future.  It will allow us to serve our members and community better during times of natural disasters.  During this project, we thought back to the snow storm of ‘93, the ice storms of the mid 90s, the tornado outbreaks, about what we could not do over there.

“We wanted to be 100 percent self-sufficient at this location.  In the event of a storm, we can house our personnel here, and we could accommodate other departments if we ever needed mass mutual aid to come to us.  It’s just going to help us do everything better.”

Assistant Chief Roger Tew added, “We built it looking in the future.  This station is built to handle the next 20 to 30 years.  If at some point the Town of West Point wants to put full-time firemen in here, this station will handle it.”

According to Tew, West Point Fire & Rescue currently has 20 member firefighters, three of whom are paid part-time weekday staff, and seven of whom are also certified as EMTs.  The department averages more than 600 calls per year.

The new station house includes three long bays and two short bays with state-of-the-art exhaust venting systems, and two floors of living and office areas.  It currently houses two engines, two trucks, a modified ATV and a transportable “smoke house” trailer used to educate kids on how to escape from a smoke-filled building.  Upstairs bunkrooms can house large numbers of personnel, and four private bedrooms will allow the department to recruit live-in firefighters to man the station around the clock.  Multiple storage rooms will help crews keep gear organized, and a large wash room off the bay area will allow them to clean equipment and personal protective gear quickly and easily.  Both floors have full kitchens and dining areas.  A saferoom on the first floor will shield fire crews in the event of a tornado, and a second shelter behind the building will be available for community residents.

Martin is impressed with his new station, and expressed gratitude to the many who helped make it a reality. “As fire chief, I can’t say enough about our community and the support we have in this community, as long as I can remember.  If it wasn’t for our community and their help to us, this wouldn’t be possible.  The mayor of the town, the members of the fire department–you can’t ask for any better.

“We try to set our standards high on certain things, but our members respond to it well.  We’re proud of this new facility, and we hope the community’s proud of it.  We’re hoping that this new facility will be a recruitment tool on its own, inspire people to say, ‘Hey, what does it take to become part of that?’”

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