The Daviess County Fire Department (DCFD) opened their new fire station at the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport less than two weeks ago, and crews began moving in within the last week. The new station boasts over 15,000 square feet of space and now reigns as Daviess County’s largest fire station.
The new building for the Daviess County airport station includes updated equipment and technology and a three-story training tower that includes rope tie-ons, space for aircraft emergency rescue simulations — including an airplane door mock-up — and a gym for the firefighters. DCFD Fire Chief Dwane Smeathers said there are plans to incorporate aircraft seating in the mezzanine, which will also be used in aircraft rescue simulations.
“We decided we needed an area for that — a multipurpose area,” Smeathers said.
A state-of-the-art ventilation system was incorporated into the building to help reduce the risk of cancer for firefighters who often stand in garages filled with exhaust fumes from the fire trucks. The ventilation is attached to a trolley inside the garage and includes a magnetized hose that attaches to the truck to expel the fumes. Smeathers said no other fire station in Daviess County has one exactly like it.
“This is drawing the diesel fumes and blows it out the roof,” Smeathers said. “What activates it is when you hit the brake on the truck. There’s a sensor that activates the whole system. It runs for three minutes after you leave the building.”
Everything that makes up the new fire station was funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“The Daviess County Fire Department, since 1973, has provided the fire protection for the airport. We keep one firefighter here 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Smeathers said. “I would guess we have around five incidents a year that happen at the airport.”
The FAA also included a long list of stipulations that DCFD had to abide by before they were able to open up their new building. A security fence had to be moved from one area of the airport to surround the fire station as a protective measure, Smeathers said.
The project was temporarily put on hold in 2018 due to FAA regulations and weather-related issues. Smeathers said DCFD is in the final stages of completing all of the FAA-required mandates.
A conference room includes a smart TV and a smart board, as well as nesting tables and chairs that can be folded to create more space in the room.
This fall, a full-scale exercise will be held at the airport, and Smeathers said the conference room will likely be used for meetings that will be held leading up to the event.
Five bunk rooms that include a window, desk space, TV and bed and are three times the size of the former fire station’s bunk rooms. Three shifts of firefighters will rotate between using the bunk rooms when on duty.
“These are approximately 140 to 150 square feet,” Smeathers said. “In the old building, they were probably 50 square feet.”
A laundry room, two expansive locker rooms, a living space, complete with leather couches and TVs, and a kitchen and dining area also make up the enormous fire station.
Although Smeathers said he feels some sadness over the move after working in the former building for 20 years of his career, he believes he’ll adjust just fine after a couple of weeks of breaking in the new building.
“I think this building is good for the fire department. I think it’s good for the community, and I think it’s good for the airport,” he said.