Blackjack Fire Station grows to fit its service area
Robertson County may not have a large population, but it encompasses a lot of square miles—areas that must be protected from fires and other disasters. The primary entities charged with that protection are the County’s volunteer fire departments—eight in all—and each is assigned a primary service area. That means if a fire or other disaster occurs in a particular area, the department assigned will be called first. Emergency dispatch will call other departments to assist if the situation merits, but the primary is expected to be first on the scene and take charge of the emergency response. In the southern part of the county, Wheelock all the way to the Brazos River, and OSR to Hwy 79 in Elliott, the Blackjack Fire Department is primary. For department that has, on occasion, been able to count on fewer than five volunteers, that’s a huge area.
Fortunately, the Blackjack Fire Department is meeting the challenge with a host of new members—it now boasts a department of 18 volunteers—and by more than doubling the space of its station.
Over the last few years, the department has had five fire trucks but space in its 1800 square foot, 1981 Fire Station to hold only two. That meant trucks had to be parked in firefighters’ yards when not in service. Insurers, however, want trucks to be under a roof. In Blackjack, they soon will be.
Over the last several weeks Blackjack has been adding a whopping 2,400 square feet to its station with the help of Davarel’s Welding Service, the company putting up the big metal exterior panels. The volunteers plan to finish out the interior themselves, with professionals providing the electrical wiring. Said Davarel’s welder and Blackjack Firefighter Brian Rekieta, “We hope to be finished by the June fish fry” (one of the department’s two fundraisers). He added that, by doing the interiors themselves, they plan to save the County a lot of money.
The department’s four trucks (they are down one after their tanker truck bit the dust recently) will fit. The addition will also sport new, ADA-compliant restrooms and room to cook fish and chili inside. The department has also submitted a grant request to the Forest Service for funds to replace the tanker truck, which will also fit.
Rekieta wishes to thank Robertson County residents for the money, paid through County service district taxes, to finance the new addition.
Melissa Freeman | Robertson County News