Pass Christian Fixing Trailer To Improve West Side Fire Protection

PASS CHRISTIAN (WLOX) -- Each day, Pass Christian has one fire truck stationed on a slab near the west side city limits. But at night, that truck is moved to station number one on the eastern tip of the city. The concern, of course, is that the extra couple of minutes it takes each night to respond to a call could be the difference between life and death.

Now, Pass Christian is finally in a position to rectify that problem.

When Pass Christian firemen roll to a rescue call from their Second Street fire station on the east side of town, time is rarely a consideration. But when the fire call is closer to Henderson Point, and it comes after 7:00 pm, getting to the west side takes a bit longer, because at night, all firemen hang their helmets in station one's garage.

"It does cause tension," Pass Christian Fire Chief Rich Marvil admitted. "The guys get a little aggravated. I do, too."

Pass Christian has two fire stations. Station number one is on Second Street.  And it's the city's main fire headquarters. Right after the hurricane, it was also the hub of Pass Christian's initial recovery efforts. Last month, it became the first public building in this city to be renovated since the storm.

"It feels great to be sitting back in my office," Marvil said with a smile.

However, that enthusiasm is tempered a bit by this realization. On the western end of North Street, Pass Christian is operating out of a temporary station number two.

Station two Firemen park their truck out in the open. It sits on an empty slab. And around the slab are plenty of weeds. Firemen often edge the grounds around a shoddy looking trailer that provides them shelter, so they can temporarily forget their post Katrina plight.

Jason Hair normally works at station one. But, he's spent several days working out of the primitive conditions on North Street. He ordered the edging work because "rather than being some little dump area, it makes it a little cozy for all of us to stay."

The storm destroyed the original station two. So, Pass Christian set up the temporary site, to make sure the west side of the city still had adequate fire protection. Bruce Wilkerson works out of the fire trailer.

"Living in this is just temporary, and I know that in my mind, so therefore I try not to let it bother me," he said.

This weekend, the trailer gets a new air conditioning system. Once it's installed, firefighters can man the facility 24 hours a day, rather than driving over to station one to sleep through the night.

"Working out of a temporary location or whatever, we're 80% up and running. I mean we're still functioning," the chief said.

Pass Christian leaders just found out they have FEMA's okay to rebuild fire station number two. That work should begin next month. Construction is supposed to take about eight months to complete.