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When seconds count, Durango firefighters hit the brass pole

$18,000 ‘tool’ is part of $3.2 million expansion of Station No. 3
Durango Fire Protection District Chief Hal Doughty slides down a new fire pole installed Friday at Station No. 3 in north Durango. The station on County Road 251 (east 32nd Street) is undergoing a major expansion and remodel and is about 80% complete. The crew moved into the building in October.

In the race to douse a blaze or save a patient’s life, firefighters at Station No. 3 in north Durango have a new tool – a brass fire pole.

The $18,000 pole is the first in town and was installed Friday at the station on County Road 251 (east 32nd Street), which is undergoing a $3.2 million expansion and remodel, said Deputy Chief Randy Black.

Compared with taking the stairs, sliding down the pole takes about half the time. The pole also pays homage to the past, said Fire Chief Hal Doughty.

Durango Fire Protection District Chief Hal Doughty demonstrates the fire pole that was installed Friday at Station No. 3 in north Durango. The pole is the first in the district and is one of many design details intended to make the station functional. The station is undergoing a $3.2 million expansion and remodel.

“We want to have a station that is efficient and functional. We want a station that can be the cornerstone of the community and something the guys can be proud of,” Doughty said. “That brass fire pole is something that is from our past; historically, it’s a significant factor for firefighters, and we felt it was important to include in this project.”

Fire poles, a longtime staple of fire stations, have declined in popularity because they can cause injuries and tend to be particularly hazardous to ankles, Black said. But Durango Fire has taken precautions to ensure the new pole is safe, he said.

The fire pole is in a dedicated room behind a locked door. Only trained staff are allowed to use it, and a landing pad 8 inches thick was installed around the bottom of the pole to protect ankles, he said.

Durango Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Randy Black slides down the fire pole installed Friday at Station No. 3 in north Durango. The pole cuts down on the amount of time it takes to get from the second story to the first story of the building.

The pole is one of many design details intended to make the fire station function well during emergencies.

Another example is a button near the front door that staff can use to trigger an alarm system when medical patients drive up to the station for care. Patients in cardiac arrest, overdosing or with other emergencies sometimes drive up to the station, he said.

The updates are all part of a remodel expected to be finished in December, Doughty said. The station was expected be finished in October, but it was set back by the winter weather, electrical lines that had to be buried and other construction delays, Doughty said.

Doughty said he is encouraging the contractors to finish by the end of the year, but he wants to maintain the quality of construction.

“What we don’t want to do is hurry them to the point we don’t get the result we are looking for. ... We are planning on using the station for the next 50 years to protect this community, so a few days is kind of a non-factor compared to the next 50 years of service,” he said.

mshinn@durangoherald.com

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