ABILENE, Texas - Abilene Fire Station #4 has been operating out of a mobile home since June 24 after extensive damage from a massive hailstorm in mid-June.
The building was built in 1962 and had already been suffering from rotting ceilings, leaky tiles and roof damage. The hailstorm added additional issues and worsened the other problems.
The $46,500 mobile home has three bedrooms shared by four firefighters during each shift. It also has a kitchen and combined living and office area. The smaller space has required the station to make some changes to how the firefighters live.
"There's no room for storage of our clothes and bedding and stuff we had when we had the station," Capt. Randy Scalf said. "This is probably a third of the size. We lost a lot of room, but we're just having to manage."
Each morning during shift change, firefighters who are leaving must take all of their belongings with them and move it to their lockers in the engine room. Additionally, there is little room to store food.
"We don't keep food like we used to," Scalf said. "We just go to the store every day and buy what we need for that day."
The engine room is still used to store equipment, among other things.
"The engine's over there, the refrigerators, all of our workout gear," Scalf said. "We have another desk with a computer for an office and a TV so the guys can get away from each other."
Even though it might be a couple years before a new station is built and the bond request for a new station is approved, he says a new station would be welcomed.
"I'm sure it's gonna feel like we're in the Taj Mahal after being here," Scalf said. "We've become sort of minimalists here, but I'm sure we'll get back to our old ways [in a new station]."
Abilene Fire Chief Ken Dozier proposed three different requests to the city's bond committee last week.
Dozier asked for three new stations – for stations #3, #4, and #7. Each of those buildings would cost $2.575 million. Also requested were field training classrooms for $1.55 million and a maintenance storage facility for $1.987 million. The bond committee won't vote on the proposals for another few months.