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Charlottesville Fire Station to Receive Upgrades to Increase Firefighters' Well-Being

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Fire Station 1 in Charlottesville Fire Station 1 in Charlottesville
Chief Andrew Baxter Chief Andrew Baxter
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The push is on to protect firefighters from cancer as more crew members come in contact with carcinogens and toxins every day.

A fire station in Charlottesville will undergo a major facelift to protect firefighters' overall well-being.

Fire Station 1, which is off Route 250 in Charlottesville, has successfully served the community for more than 50 years. But crews say the building is just too small for them.

Now, with some funding, fire staff hope to expand this building from 3,000 square feet to 10,000.

“We're really limited by the office space, the bunkroom space, the shower and lavatory facilities - it’s just too small,” says Charlottesville Fire Department Chief Andrew Baxter.

Fire station 1, also known as the “Bypass Station” in Charlottesville, was built back in 1961.

Now, over 50 years later, it lacks adequate storage space. In its current state, it has only two showers on the second flood for all members of the crew.

“We would really want to have showers downstairs so that as soon as firefighters come back from a fire, they are able to get out of their dirty uniforms and get a shower,” says Baxter.

That may seem small, but it's huge when it comes to reducing the risk of cancer among firefighters.

"We want to have a separation between where those carcinogens are and those dangerous materials are and the living space,” says Baxter.

The station also needs a place for crew to exercise.

“In the morning when they do PT - our guys do PT every morning at 8 o'clock - they pull the fire engines out and exercise in the apparatus bay,” says Baxter.

On Monday, July 2, City Council approved consolidating some funds so that this station will have $5.9 million to replace its current facility.

It will grow more than three times its current size to become 10,000 square feet.

“Anything that we can do in terms of the design of the station, the equipment that we issue our firefighters,” says Baxter. "The most important resource we have in our fire department is our firefighters."

Firefighters will still provide service from the station while the new building is being built.

The next step in the project is the design phase, and Chief Baxter hopes construction will start in fall 2019.

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