Firefighters with Columbia Station No. 3 have had to find a new place to call their home away from home after flooding forced them out of their building off Bluff Road in October.
The crew, consisting of four firefighters and a battalion chief, are now in two temporary housing units beside the station, according to Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins.
“We don’t want them to have to reside in that place very long – that’s why we’re doing everything we can to get the station back up and running,” Jenkins said.
The crew initially moved to Station No. 2, in Olympia, but that slowed response times because of the distance they had to travel to get back to their territory, Jenkins said. They moved back to the Bluff Road area around Oct. 23, and are back to their normal response times, Jenkins said.
Immediately after the firefighters moved back, the Fire Department set them up with temporary housing, according to department spokesman Brick Lewis.
“They were in (the station) less than one shift,” Lewis said of the damaged building.
Lewis said the station’s response area includes Bluff Road, Shop Road, Atlas Road, lower Richland County, Interstate 77 and other areas.
Most of the flood damage has been repaired, but the station still needs a paint job and some floor work, the chief said. Once all that is done, the crew will move back in.
“We did some air quality tests inside the station and everything came back good,” Jenkins said.
The Fire Department is paying about $1,200 a week to rent the two temporary housing units, the chief said.
The chief said he hopes the rest of the work will be done on Station No. 3 by the end of the year, but in the meantime, he’s impressed with his firefighters’ resilience.
“I am extremely proud of our folks for their ability to adapt,” he said.