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Consistent growth has forced St. Stephens Fire Department to expand to meet residents' needs.
The departmentâ€™s services and personnel have ballooned since its original two-bay station and small crew of the late 1950s. Today, the department serves more than 16,000 residents in northeast Catawba County and boasts a staff of about 40 full-time and volunteer members.
More members â€“ and more calls â€“ demands more space, something the department has anticipated for the past two years.
This weekend, St. Stephens fire officials will unveil a 12,700-square-foot addition to station No. 2 at 4060 Springs Road in Conover. The construction project, which started in May 2010, also includes a complete renovation of the existing 2,640-square-foot station.
Fire officials say the expansion will allow for better training, protection and administrative support for residents throughout the area.
â€śOur newest station gives us more space to accommodate additional volunteers and future expansion for employees to provide coverage around the clock,â€ť said Deputy Fire Chief Josh Randolph. â€śThis facility will help us maintain and even improve response time and coverage as call volume increases throughout the district.â€ť
Bobbitt Design Build completed the renovation and construction project in September. The new station provides facilities for better training for firefighters, increased space for fire protection equipment and administrative office space, Randolph said.
The new building features brick and stone detailing, four drive-through bays for eight trucks, and four dorm rooms.
The department will hold a grand opening celebration of the new station on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend and tour the facility.
The grand opening will include a building dedication ceremony and demonstrations of fire trucks, ambulances, vehicle-rescue operations, infant critical care, fire extinguishers and a smoke house.
The Catawba County Fire Association Honor Guard will perform and present the national colors.
St. Stephens Fire Department has served the community for 54 years. The department was established in 1957 and provided service from a two-bay station behind Shells Bar-B-Q on Springs Road.
As the department and community grew, a new four-bay station was built in 1967 to replace the original station.
In 1996, construction was completed on station No. 2.
Today, the 39 members of the department include 27 emergency medical technicians, 13 rescue technicians and 12 level-two firefighters. The department operates out of two stations and houses seven fire apparatuses, including an engine, engine/rescue, ladder truck, two tankers, brush unit and a quick-response vehicle.
The department protects about $765,282,000 in property over 20.38 square miles. The department responds to about 1,100 calls per year, with an average response time of six minutes.
For more information on St. Stephens Fire Department, visit SSVFD4.org.