• 73°

Bogue Chitto gets new fire station

The new Bogue Chitto Volunteer Fire Station was designed to domore than help fight fires — it was also designed to serve as acommunity center.

“We want people to get more involved with their community firedepartments,” said Chief Sedgie Mercier.

The 60 x 80 square feet building contains a three bay area forthe station’s pumper, 2,000 gallon tanker and rescue unit, but italso houses an office, two bathrooms with showers, a bedroom,kitchen and a large 30 x 40 square feet classroom for training.

“We have 2,400 square feet of living area in case we have adisaster. We’ll have the facilities that we can house people here,”he said. “We’re here to serve this community, help save people’slives and help save people’s property.”

The large classroom was designed with the intention of not onlyhosting the station’s intensive training program, he said, but alsoto serve as a community center for fund raisers and benefits,family reunions or birthday celebrations. A small patio with agrill and a few picnic tables will also be placed behind thestation.

“We can’t charge a rent for this service, of course, butdonations would be welcomed,” Mercier said. “Those donations wouldgo right back to the community by allowing us to purchase newequipment or meet other needs of the department.”

The new station has long been a goal of Mercier’s.

“I’ve laid awake many a night thinking of a new fire station,”he said. “My goals, when I became fire chief about 15 years ago,were to get a brand new pumper truck, a new tanker, and build abrand new fire station for this community. I’m mighty proud to havemet those goals.”

The old station, located on Yellow Pine Street, was establishedin 1972 and had become much too small for the growing firedepartment. The old station was a 30 x 30 square feet structure. Itwas returned to the original land owner once the new station wasbuilt.

The department has a long history of service.

“It was the first volunteer fire department established inLincoln County,” Mercier said.

The station’s new site, at the intersection of Highway 51 andMonticello Street, was chosen for its centralized location. It’swithin quick striking distance of downtown Bogue Chitto, but alsohas ready access to Highway 51 and Interstate 55.

“We do a lot of medical emergencies on I-55,” he said.

Mercier said he believes the accessibility of the highway andinterstate will also increase response times slightly.

The two-acre site of the station was purchased from the PhillipFortenberry family through donations to the department, the chiefsaid.

The $80,000 station itself, however, has been financed.

“It is the biggest volunteer station in Lincoln County,” Merciersaid.

Some work remains to complete the interior of the station, butthe chief expected that work to be done within the next two monthsthanks to the efforts of Mike and Lee King. The contractor hasdonated many hours of personal time and equipment in helping buildthe department, Mercier said.

The chief said another element factoring into the design of thenew station was the department’s continuing efforts to improvetheir fire rating, which would mean lower insurance premiums toresidents in their district. Eventually, he said, they hope toreach the point where the station could maintain a full-timefirefighter on duty 24 hours a day. He added, however, that the dayis a long way off.

The department presently has 19 volunteers, and four arecertified.

Training is held at the station every Monday night, he said, sothe classroom will be frequently in service. The Mississippi FireAcademy will host a three-day class at the station entitled “EveryDay Fire” in July.