Construction of 2 new Port Arthur fire stations getting closer

Published 12:38 am Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Officials are hoping to break ground soon on one of two new fire stations planned for the City of Port Arthur.

Fire Chief Greg Benson said Station No. 3 in Port Acres is expected to reopen at the corner of 61st Street and Ray Avenue by Jan. 1, 2025.

Station No. 2, located in the west end, has also received approval from City Council to be rebuilt. Benson said officials are working to determine the best location for the new facility.

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“It is really important when looking at putting a fire station in that you make sure there is appropriate access to roadways and sections in your town,” Benson said. “You don’t want to put it near a dead end.”

City Manager Ron Burton said architectural drawings for both have been developed.

“We are getting into preliminary studies, as to the location for the west side fire station,” Burton said. “But we have had the community meetings that were needed for the fire station in Port Acres.”

The city in 2022 entered into an agreement with Brown Reynolds Watkins Architects to design both stations.

“There are a lot of advantages to having the same design,” Benson said. “It helps with your long-term maintenance. There’s no unnecessary searching.”

The current fire station in Port Acres is located on Canal Street. (Monique Batson/The News)

Council approved rebuilding the fire stations in 2021 when health and safety concerns were raised, as neither is compliant with current guidelines.

Station No. 2, located at 1201 Grannis Avenue, was built in 1971 and is approximately 5,600 square feet. Station No. 3, located at 2232 Canal Street, was constructed in 1961 and is the same size as No. 2.

Benson said an example of necessary improvements is adding an exhaust system to ventilate diesel fumes. None of the city’s seven stations have one.

And while there are plans to rebuild or upgrade all stations, Benson said adding appropriate exhaust systems is something that currently tops the list. In addition, they are looking at a new station alerting system.

“The loud noise is associated with negative cardiovascular issues,” he said.

The new system would start with a lower tone that gradually increases with simultaneous use of lights and screens on the walls that display the call information.

Other improvements needed at the fire stations include increasing the size of the bays as fire trucks have become larger in time, as well as making them more gender-appropriate. The department does not currently have any women on staff but expects to in the future.

Benson said officials expect to break ground on the Port Acres station in October.

“It’s a better location for accessing both east, west, north and south areas,” he added.