Firefighters living and working out of a hotel

Firefighters living and working out of a hotel
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Last month, a suspected intoxicated driver crashed their pickup truck into the Lake Charles Company Five fire house.

While no firefighters were injured, they did have to find a new place to live and work.

After spending a weekend at fire house six, they relocated again to an extended-stay hotel down the road from their fire house. A month later, they're still there.

While Fire Chief Keith Murray says a structural engineer has deemed the building repairable, it's not a quick fix.

So how are firefighters coping in the meantime?

"It's a rough situation but we're definitely making the best of it," said Jameson Welch, a firefighter with Company Five.

Company Five firefighters have been living and working out of Value Place - an extended-stay hotel, after the driver of a pickup truck crashed into their station Good Friday.

"We relieve each other out here about 6 o'clock in the morning, we go through the same routine as we do at the station," explained Kevin Hanks, LCFD's East District Chief.

While routine's the same, the scenery is not.

"It's a lot tighter, a lot tighter spaces, we have our own bed and our own space at the other station, here we're kind of on top of each other," said Welch.

While there's a kitchenette and fridge, firefighters say they eat out more as the coffee maker is about the only gadget that gets used – besides their radios which monitors everyone's runs, not just theirs.

"So that doesn't make it too good at night. You know when you're in the station you only get your call when it comes over the station speakers," explained Hanks.

And when they do get a call, they have to run out to their engine, in the back of the parking lot.

And because there's a lack of storage in their rooms, they have to keep their equipment out in the truck, which means they get ready in the parking lot.

Hanks says, "It makes it a little bit harder to make runs."

"Time differences are basically minutes, I mean it's nothing terrible, it's noticeable, but nothing terrible," added Welch.

As for their engine, Welch says, "if we have to wash the truck or do any maintenance to it we have to drive back to our station or to another station to do it."

The experience has been challenging and more work, but others have taken notice.

Jalissa Green, who works at Value Place says, "I've been seeing the firefighters run in and out of the property you know going on different runs and stuff like that, and I have whole new respect for them, because I never knew Lake Charles had that many fires and things that would happen."

And while firefighters feel welcome there, they hope to get back to their home soon.

Chief Murray says there is good news. The city has hired an architect and they're hoping to bring the firefighters back to their fire house in June, where they'll be living in a two-bedroom trailer on their own property, along with their engine.

Company Five's fire house is located at 2702 General Doolittle Avenue in Lake Charles.

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