This is Special to the Tribune
West Buncombe – With a dedication prayer by department chaplain Gary Cole and a few turns of brass fire hose couplings by retired Chief Randy Ratcliff and Board Vice President Vernon Dover, the West Buncombe Fire Department officially opened its new Station 2 at 724 River View Church Rd. on Saturday, February 15th.
While crews have been operating out of the station for about a month and a half, some time was needed to move in, equip, and work the inevitable kinks out before they were ready to invite guests,” explained West Buncombe Fire Chief Dennis Fagnant. “We will hold an open house for our public to come and tour this state-of-the art facility this spring when the weather is a little more hospitable, but this station is always open. Come over, knock on the door, and our firefighters will be happy to provide a tour!” said Fagnant.
The station serves the Emma Community of West Buncombe, where call response times averaged 10-12 minutes and even more when the weather was a factor. “We’ve already seen call response times reduced to 3.5 – 4 minutes,” explains Station Captain Jared Gudger. The station is staffed by three firefighters 24/7/365. It is equipped to respond with an engine company and a brush truck to handle any fire-related calls and a quick response medical vehicle to attend to any medical emergencies.
The design of the building was completed by Neil Brown of Garner & Brown Architects of Charlotte and was built by Goforth Builders of Fairview, who will soon start construction on the Town of Weaverville’s new Lake Louise Community Center. The station utilizes solar panels, which were made possible by a grant from Buncombe County and a generous rebate offered by Duke Energy. The cost of the new substation was $3.3 million, said Fagnant.
“We are so very thankful to Jeremiah LaRoy from Buncombe County’s Office of Sustainability and Duke Energy for investing in us and our community. The grant and rebate allowed us to design a station which can generate enough energy during the day to make up for the energy we use at night, virtually making the building a net-zero energy user,” said former Chief Ratcliff.
In addition to the solar panels, the insulation installed on the roof and in the walls creates a building envelope 44% more efficient than a typical built home. This equates to a highly efficient building to heat and cool, further reducing its energy consumption. “We are very fortunate, proud, and ready to serve our community for many years to come from this facility. The members of the department and especially the building committee clearly spent many hours wrestling with the details of the station, and the result is not only stunning but on time and on-budget. I am very proud of their work, and the community should be too,” said Board President Larry Carr.