AP NEWS

Official: Nassau Bay station strengthens area fire, EMS service

April 16, 2019

The new Nassau Bay fire station pays off in better emergency response, not only for that city but for neighboring communities, a department official says.

The Nassau Bay Volunteer Fire Department receives about 30 calls each week, including those that involve assisting other communities, department administrative assistant Leslie Shak said.

The $4.1 million facility, which had its grand opening in January as the city’s first fire station to be built since 1980, improves the department’s ability to provide mutual-aid response to neighboring cities such as Kemah, Seabrook, Webster and League City, she said.

The 17,400-square-foot building at 18295 Upper Bay Road features advanced technology, four drive-through double-door bays, rooms for weekly training and a gym for staff and city employees. It also has living quarters — something previous Nassau Bay stations lacked.

During large-scale emergency response situations, firefighters previously had to sleep on floors or in chairs.

“During (Hurricane Harvey), we hardly had room, but guys were doing round-the-clock shifts and putting in their own time throughout the storm,” Shak said.

“The way the building is built, it’s one of the safest buildings in the city,” she said. “So, this is a great place for members to be safe while their riding out these emergencies.

“It’s just a much better setup for everybody all the way around, because we went from very little square footage to what we have now.”

The station, which also houses the city’s emergency medical services, will accommodate the city’s growth for the next 50 years, said Mary Dickerson, the fire department’s secretary. The city has about 4,000 residents.

Since 2008, the department had operated out of a station at 120 Surf Court. The city’s first station had been demolished to make way for the construction of the Nassau Bay Town Square.

The fire department was formed in 1967, three years before the city was incorporated, according to the department’s website.

The city realized the need to have its own department in the fall of 1966 when a train blocking the Texas 3-NASA Road 1 intersection delayed the Webster Volunteer Fire Department from responding to a fire at a hotel on NASA Road 1. A hotel guest broke a leg when forced to jump from a second-story window.

That convinced Chuck Miller, a former fire fighter from Florida who owned a service station on NASA Road 1, that the city was growing too fast to rely on outside help during emergencies. He became Nassau Bay’s first fire chief.

The department has about 35 members who include NASA engineers, pilots and volunteers who serve as firefighters for other departments.

“They put a lot of their own time into this, and we are so appreciative of everything that all of our volunteers do,” Shak said.

A beam from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center was installed in the station to honor first responders, including those who died in that disaster.

“A lot of planning when into the building of this station,” Shak said. “Our chief (Tom George) was here every day during construction just to make sure everything was done right, and it ended up being a beautiful building.”

The department has three engines and other vehicles and two boats.

The station was funded through tax increment reinvestment zone funds.

yorozco@hcn.online.com