The Sam M. Zerkowski Fire Station that recently opened on Steele Road boasts a commercial-grade kitchen, a spacious lounge for firefighters and three bays for firetrucks, but what might be the most important feature is hardly noticeable: a sprinkler system and smoke alarms in the ceiling.
The $1.1 million building replaces a station on the same site that was heavily damaged in a fire a little more than two years ago.
“If it can happen to us, it can happen to anyone” said Chad Duffaut, chief of fire prevention for St. Tammany Fire District No. 1.
Building codes were less rigorous when the first station was built in 1980, on land donated by developer Pat Miramon. The lone firefighter who was there when the fire broke out did not realize what was happening until he heard a crash in one of the engine bays.
An electrical outlet had shorted, Duffaut said, and with both ends of the bay open, there was plenty of oxygen to feed the flames and no time for the firefighter to act — not even to move the $90,000 fire truck that was parked in the bay and also was lost.
The station, named after the first chairman of the fire district’s commission, had to be demolished. For about three months, the area was without its own station and was covered by another station on Brownswitch Road.
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