You may have noticed land being cleared on the north side of Leesville Road just past the Harrington Grove subdivision. or the sign placed in the front of the construction site. The city of Raleigh is in the process of building its 28th fire station in the Leesville community.
The fire station has been planned for many years and in October 2010 the Raleigh City Council approved negotiation of a design contract. The architect chosen was William Ferm Architects, PA, of Raleigh who also designed the city’s three prior fire stations. On May 21, 2013, the Raleigh City Council awarded a construction contract not to exceed $2,700,000 to Resolute Building, Inc.
The new station isn’t inexpensive. It is to feature many new luxuries, including 27 beds, an exercise room, training rooms, a spacious kitchen, and a day room/watchroom for on duty crews. Three bays will be included for the trucks, different from prior stations including only two apparatus bays. Not all three bays will be occupied at first, but they plan to add other apparatus as growth in the area and more demands need to be met.
The building site is 12117 Leesville Road.
If we look at this a little more in depth, you quickly realize that the location is a bit odd. This station is virtually on the edge of Wake County and Durham County. Bethesda Fire Department, which operates out of a station in Durham County one mile away, is incredibly close to the new station. Additionally, Raleigh fire department owns a facility on Pinecrest Road, only three miles away. Not to mention, the Durham Highway volunteer fire department on Norwood Road operates out of their station exactly two miles away from the new station.
It makes you wonder, why is our county building a 2.7 million dollar station when we already have multiple stations within close proximity? And does this affect the other departments in the Leesville/Wake County realm?
For Leesville area residents, especially near the Harrington Grove subdivision, this is a lovely help. Their response times will be lowered greatly and although some people are skeptical of the effectiveness of this station location, as they say in the fire service, “fire departments are useless until it’s your own life or home that needs saving.”
On the other hand, the Durham Highway fire department may see less call volume than ever before. The new fire station will take away much of their response area, although many times they will still respond as the second-out company. Durham Highway is staffed during the day and weeknights full time, but on the weekends they only operate on a day crew. Of course, volunteers are always ready to respond, but their response times will be slower than that of an always staffed Raleigh engine responding from the new station.
There is always speculation on the future of the fire service in north Wake County because everyone wants the most efficient services possible. However, people also have to realize that the fire service is a brotherhood. These volunteer departments have built connections with their communities and have formed relationships with its members that aren’t easily broken. There are emotions and real people behind the fire stations you pass everyday and they aren’t easily changed. With that said, if Durham Highway’s call volume decreases gradually as predicted thanks to the new station, the department would potentially have no choice but to attempt a merger with another department to preserve its heritage.
Many students in the Leesville community have interacted with the Durham Highway Fire Department and Raleigh Fire Departments through open houses or internships and service hours volunteering at the stations. Whether you believe the new station is a good move or you think it isn’t necessarily needed, there is one thing that the community should agree on. We are fortunate to be dealing with the concept of too much fire protection instead of too little. There are communities across the county that have this issue such as the town of Zebulon in eastern Wake. The Leesville community should be proud that over the years, the fire service has made sure we have the best fire protection possible.