DeLand’s new Fire Station 81 focuses on firefighter health, safety and training

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DeLand Fire Chief Todd Allen outside the new Fire Station 81 on Thursday, January 13. The 16,000 square foot facility cost approximately $5.5 million and expanded functionality to help serve the community.

DELAND – Fire Station 81 at 343 W. Howry Ave. has a vintage look, but it’s anything but old.

The $5.5 million, 16,000 square foot facility was designed with the future in mind.

“We’re very excited about the amount of opportunity this station is going to give us compared to the current situation,” Fire Chief Todd Allen said Thursday morning during a media tour of the new station.

Final touches, such as cleaning and furniture placement, were underway Thursday morning as officials prepared to unveil the 2-story facility to the public at an open house on Saturday.

The original Fire Station 81, located one block east of the new one, was designed in the late 1960s as a volunteer station. It will eventually be demolished and turned into a public car park.

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Firefighter health and safety, including cancer prevention, was instrumental in the design of the new fire station, which is expected to serve the community for the next 50 to 100 years.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Compared to the general public, firefighters have a 9% increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14% increase in cancer-related deaths, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“We have an area where firefighters can decontaminate immediately, pick up clean gear, and be ready to respond to the next call,” Allen said.

A negative pressure ventilation system and diesel exhaust venting system will reduce firefighter exposure to diesel emissions and other carcinogenic contaminants.

The new station also includes a functional fire hydrant and integrated training accessories, such as the stairwell tower that allows, among other things, training at height.

DeLand Fire Chief Todd Allen takes visitors to the new Fire Station 81, which features a working fire hydrant.

DeLand Fire Chief Todd Allen takes visitors to the new Fire Station 81, which features a working fire hydrant.

There is also a medical assessment room since fire stations have a number of walk-ins, says Allen.

The station is expected to have fully staffed advanced life support capabilities on all units by the end of the year.

The new station has more women working as firefighters with separate sleeping quarters and restrooms.

There is a living room and a connected kitchen with three separate refrigerators and pantry, one for each shift.

The dashboard for DeLand's new Fire Station 81 was built by fire department driver/engineer Justin Bass.

The dashboard for DeLand’s new Fire Station 81 was built by Justin Bass, a fire department driver/engineer.

There are meeting and community rooms, a fitness room, and the fire marshal and fire prevention officers will be able to relocate outside of City Hall.

“We always felt a bit of a disconnect,” Allen said. “Having them all under one roof in the same hallway with administration will be much better for our firefighters and the fire department.”

Eventually, a reserve garage will be built behind the station to store the city’s well-known antique truck, among other vehicles and materials.

Landscaping around the new facility includes a sapling from the 9/11 Survivor Tree, a Callery Pear.

The landscaping around DeLand's new Fire Station 81 includes this young Callery pear tree from the 9/11 survivor tree, which was salvaged from the rubble at Ground Zero and rehabilitated.

The landscaping around DeLand’s new Fire Station 81 includes this young Callery pear tree from the 9/11 survivor tree, which was salvaged from the rubble at Ground Zero and rehabilitated.

Also recently completed, a few blocks away is the new Police Evidence Building.

The new facility, which is hurricane-proof and meets all standards for secure evidence storage, has a “long-term storage area for evidence required to be retained by law for up to 100 years and of an updated lab for processing forensic evidence,” Ava Hanner, public safety spokeswoman, said in a news release.

The new building also has a garage area for the processing and storage of vehicles presented as evidence.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: New DeLand 81 Fire Station Focuses on Firefighter Health and Safety

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