Fire Station #7 in Good Hope now officially open and will be staffed from Monday

Design of new fire station said to contain safety features to benefit health of firefighters

Officials from the Walton County Board of Commissioners, Walton County Fire Rescue and the City of Good Hope were on hand for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on the new Good Hope Fire Station #7 on Feb. 16, 2024. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

The official Ribbon Cutting of Walton County Fire Rescue Station # 7, at 2077 Nunnally Shoal Road, Good Hope, took place Friday morning. The new, state-of-the-art, facility will be staffed and operational from Monday.

Station # 7, along with the fire engine, was destroyed in an early morning fire on April 21, 2022. According to WCFR Assistant Chief Craig League, the cause of the fire was found to be a shore line battery charger that was plugged into the fire engine causing the fire engine to catch fire in the apparatus bay. The resultant fire totally destroyed the engine and caused extensive structure damage to the bay. Walton County Walton County Board of Commissioners voted to rebuild a new station instead of attempting to repair it.

Good Hope Mayor Randy Garrett thanked Walton County Chairman David Thompson and the Board of Commissioners for the new fire station and WCFR for the re-allocation of personnel, facilities and equipment to ensure there was no downtime or lapse in protective services during the time it took to build the new station.

“Mostly, thanks to the firefighters, the beating heart of the facility, that come to work to protect us. They are the tip of the spear, whether in natural or man-made emergency situations. They provide care and comfort in medical emergencies, protection of environment and property in natural disasters, fire prevention and suppression and support of community activities,” Garrett said. “They risk their lives so we don’t have to.”

At the ribbon cutting, officials said the new station is the most up-to-date in in the county and incorporates design features and equipment that will give more protection against carcinogens found in firefighters’ gear.

A recent study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) found that textiles used in firefighters turnout gear contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – chemicals that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health effects. These PFAS substances reportedly can become toxic when exposed to high temperatures thereby posing a significant risk to firefighters who have worn this gear when fighting fires.

In a tour of the new facility, League pointed out that the living quarters of Fire Station #7 were at the opposite end of the facility to the bay that contained the firefighting gear. There also was an industrial washing machine that the firefighters could immediately throw their gear into when returning from a fire. There also were shower facilities and a change room where they could shower and put on a fresh uniform and put their clothing into washers to remove any potential carcinogen risk.

This fire station also is equipped with a sprinkler system. The siren that woke up the firefighter that was on duty the night the fire station burned also was on display at the new facility.

The official ‘push-in’ of new fire engine #7 at the new Good Hope Fire Station #7 on Feb. 16, 2023. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

Following the speeches by the officials from the Walton County Board of Commissioners, WCFR Chief Kevin Hayney and Garret, the ribbon was cut and the traditional opening of the station was carried out by officials performing the “push-in” of Engine #7 into the parking bay. This “push-in” tradition dates back to more than 100 years ago when fire trucks were pulled by horses. They had to be unhooked and taken into their quarters for feeding while the firemen pushed the fire trailer backwards into the station to be ready to halter the horse or horses next time it was needed. Since fire trucks have been motorized, it is still traditional for the ceremony to be performed at a new fire station or when a new fire engine is bought into the fleet. However, due to the much heavier fire trucks and equipment now included, the engine is cranked up and the truck put into reverse gear to help a little with the ceremonious “push in.”

Everybody was invited in for hot dogs, refreshments and a slice of cake following the ceremony. With everything now in place, Lt. Hunter Queen and Firefighter Erin Carter will take the first shift in the new station on Monday.

From left: Walton County Fire Rescue Lt. Hunter Queen and Firefighter Erin Carter get the first shift of the new Good Hope Fire Station #7 on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 following the official Ribbon Cutting on Feb. 16, 2024. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

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