WEST ASHLEY, S.C. (WCBD) – A new fire station honoring nine fallen Charleston firefighters officially opened its doors Monday in West Ashley.
Charleston Fire officials were joined by city leaders including Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg, several past and present city council members and North Charleston Fire Department Chief Greg Bulanow for a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.
Fire Station 11 will house Charleston’s only command training center, which was realized to be a need of the Charleston Fire Department after the Sofa Super Store fire.
Since then, leaders say a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into making the fire station a reality. Conversations to build the station started more than 10 years ago and a vision of honor and service was born.
“The company that had bought this property was going to put an automobile storage facility here and the neighbors, that was not something they wanted, that’s not something I wanted,” says Bill Moody, a former city council member who represented the district for eight years.
Moody was elected to council just before conversations to build the new fire station began and from there he says the project became a mission along neighbors called the ‘Pebble Road Gang.’
The community and city leaders identified a need for something special. Former Councilman Moody says a group of neighbors proposed a new fire station to honor the lives lost while improving service in the area.
“So we started doing the due diligence and one of those was would the fireman want to serve in a building that was right next door to the memorial and the answer came back yes that would be great,” says Moody.
Station 11 was born and a state-of-the-art facility was built next to the Charleston 9 Memorial Park. Leaders say it’s significance is hard to explain.
“Needed to make a statement for our Charleston 9 Fire Fighters,” says Charleston Fire Department Chief Dan Curia. “It needed to make a statement for their families and it needed to make a statement for the community.”
The building serves as a living memorial for the firefighters who died at the Sofa Super Store Fire 14 years ago on June 18th, 2007. Chief Curia says the new building will benefit everyone.
“We will serve the community for generations out of this building and we never want to forget the sacrifice our fire fighters made,” says Chief Curia.
“It’s an excellent facility for our community, for our fire fighters and to honor those who’ve given their lives,” says Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg.
9 windows in the truck bay overlook the memorial serving as a statement to never forget the fire fighters killed.
“There’s a lot of history in this building and a lot of work went into it,” says Moody.
We will never forget,” says Curia. “They are part of our family, they’re part of our fabric and every day we come to work at this facility, we will honor your loved ones.”
City leaders say they are planning future upgrades at the Charleston 9 Memorial next door to improve and better honor the 9 nine fighters who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Its new location will also help with faster response times for those they serve in the West Ashley area.