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Blue Ridge expanding fire coverage in Flat Rock

Adding living quarters to its Flat Rock fire station will allow Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue to run 24/7 coverage. Adding living quarters to its Flat Rock fire station will allow Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue to run 24/7 coverage.

FLAT ROCK — Flat Rock residents will see quicker emergency response times when Blue Ridge Fire & Rescue completes an addition to house a full-time crew.

“Basically the biggest thing is by adding the square footage we’ll actually be able to have personnel there 24 hours,” Chief Will Sheehan said. “Currently all we have is bays and a bathroom.”
The addition going up now on the south side of the station will become the firetruck bays; the current bay space is being renovated for living quarters.
The change will “shorten response time and improve our presence in the community,” he added. “We’ll be a little more available to the folks that live in Flat Rock.”
The busiest department in the city after the city of Hendersonville, Blue Ridge covers most of the Village of Flat Rock, with Valley Hill and Green River fire departments covering smaller parts, and stretches all the way to I-26.
“Our district actually on the right-hand side (of Little River Road) goes to Trenholm and on the left side goes almost to Middleton Road,” he said.
Blue Ridge’s board of directors has been planning for a staffed station for about two years.
“We’ve been able to alleviate some other debts” in order to budget for the construction, which will be financed. “We actually were able to pay off our ladder truck and other equipment,” Sheehan said.
Carolina Specialties is the contractor for the 3,500-square-foot addition and renovation, which is projected to cost around $1 million. The new station will be just over 5,000 square feet total, with offices and kitchen in the renovated part now used as the truck bays, a new garage with capacity for two fire trucks and two smaller vehicles and living quarters in between.
“The current plan is that we’ll split the crew we have” at the main station on East Blue Ridge Road. “Half will be here and half will be at our other station. We are hoping with this project and other apparatus we’ll be able to add additional personnel. Ideally, we would be able to add another person to each station. Like all departments, we operate on a fixed income and we try to stay within our budget and we don’t do anything that raises taxes.”
As volunteer firefighters become harder to recruit, the county’s rural departments struggle to maintain a force to keep up with demand.
“There’s not a single department in the county that has enough,” he said. We’re very fortunate and we have an amazing crew that does a really good job.”
Sheehan said designers were mindful that the station is surrounded by historic buildings at the Flat Rock Playhouse across Greenville Highway and the Village Hall and old post office next door.
“Esthetically we’re going to do our very best not to be an eyesore and to build something that looks like it’s supposed to be there,” he said. “It’ll be a metal building with some rockwork and with some landscaping. It’s a big building. It’s really hard to hide it.”
“We are the busiest department in the county and that doesn’t show any signs of stopping anytime soon,” he said. “The chiefs at Valley Hill and Green River have expressed their excitement they will have additional personnel closer to them. We’ll actually shorten our response time to mutual aid calls.”