Fire station in desperate need of repairs

February 11, 2010 4:38:26 PM PST
We've seen a major transformation across storm ravaged Galveston and Houston in nearly a year and a half since Hurricane Ike roared ashore. Buildings that were left crumbled have been rebuilt. But one building in particular looks the same, if not worse, than it did after the hurricane hit. And this building is a fire station. There are five fire stations in the city of Friendswood. Station #3 serves mainly the eastern portion of the city, but this one is not operating the same as all the others.

Just looking at Station #3 in Friendswood you can see why firefighters are so unhappy.

Richard McFee with the Friendswood Volunteer Fire Department said, "I would say, yes, we're disappointed." More than a year after Hurricane Ike hit, the roof still leaks and many of the interior walls are in desperate need of repair. But, what's even worse, officials say, is that in the current condition the station can no longer house firefighters on a 24 hour basis.

"We do believe it's impacted our response," McFee said.

Like all other fire stations in Friendswood, Station #3 used to staff the facility with two responders ready in the case of emergency. After the storm, however, the dormitories are no longer livable and the kitchen is a wreck. Residents living nearby shudder to think of a delayed response.

"Their top priority should be our safety," said resident Lynn DeGraff.

The city says the problem is complex. When Hurricane Ike hit, the building was owned by the Forest Bend subdivision. The city just in the last few months bought the building and has since applied for a state grant.

Nick Haby with the City of Friendswood said, "That station needs some repair. That's why we're working with the state government as quickly as we can to get some money to make those repairs."

But it's when those repairs will be made that is concerning. Station #3 is a staging facility during hurricane events. With that season quickly approaching, firefighters say time is of the essence.

"This is something we would like to see finished and completed prior to June 1, the kick off of the hurricane season for sure," McFee said.

The fire department did apply for FEMA money but was denied.