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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Area’s oldest fire station to be replaced with state-of-the-art building

Area’s oldest fire station to be replaced with state-of-the-art building

In 1948, a group gathered together under the realization that Larose needed a fire station and fire truck to better serve the area. A crew of men volunteered to take on the daunting task and the Larose Fire Department was born.

Soon thereafter, property was purchased and a two-story building was constructed at 12595 East Main Street in Larose, alongside East 6th Street. The building housed one fire engine and the equipment needed for the volunteers to fight fires in the Larose area.

In 1959 the Lafourche Parish Fire District 3 (LPFD3) was formed and took ownership of all fire department properties in the district’s boundaries, which spans from 2 miles north of the Intracoastal Canal south to the Grand Isle border and also includes the Lafourche section of Hwy. 24.

District 3 covers the largest area in Lafourche, roughly half of the Parish.

Now, more than 65 years after its construction, the Larose Fire Dept. building has been demolished to make way for a new state-of-the-art 3,500 sq. ft. fire station, which will house LPFD3 personnel 24/7.

“It’s hard seeing something that has been a local landmark for so many years being destroyed, but it has become inadequate compared to modern standards. The only fire truck that fit in the old building is one from 1982. The height of the building was about six feet too short for newer fire trucks,” said LPFD3 Asst. Fire Chief Kully Griffin.

The new firehouse is expected to open in late October or early November, barring any major situations that may hamper progress. It will have a housing unit for the four on-duty firemen and a large garage that will house a ladder truck and a pump truck as well as equipment needed for any given situation.

“It’s really going to be a beautiful building. We tried to tie in some of the old style with more contemporary features that will work for modern-day fire equipment,” said Fire Chief Freddie Guidry.

Griffin along with Fire Chief Freddie Guidry and Batallion 1 Fire Chief Jim Montez stood together overlooking the demolition on Tuesday as they recalled various fires and tragedies that stood out in their combined 89 years of experience.

All three of the men started out as volunteers for the fire department and later made it a career. The trio agreed that the amount of volunteers in Fire District 3 are a huge part of what helps to cut costs as well as to make the department as successful as it is today.

“There are so many different situations that our firefighters are involved in and trained for; it’s much more than just putting out fires. Last year we took 770 calls. That averages to two emergency calls each day,” said Guidry.

Members of LPFD3, both volunteers and paid employees, undergo 600-700 hours of training each year in order to be certified and prepared for just about any situation. The training even extends to office staff, dispatchers and the mechanics that maintain the 40 vehicles owned by the district.

Recently, one of the dispatchers received a call for help and walked the caller through the steps to deliver a baby at home. A few weeks ago, a man got into a head-on collision and went over the elevated Leeville overpass into icy waters during the early morning hours. LPFD3 were the only emergency service in the area equipped with the tools to quickly extract the man from the water and save his life.

“We had equipment designed specifically for us by a company in Canada which can be attached to a rescue truck, brought to an overpass then attached to the side of the bridge so one of our rescuers can go over and extract the person from the water and bring him up to safety in a matter of minutes,” said Griffin. “The state said that no one would ever go over the rails but we knew it would eventually happen and were prepared for when it did.

That man is alive today due to the training and quick thinking of our men,” he continued.

Their acts of bravado go far beyond dashing into a burning building to save lives. They also help with fire prevention and have installed free smoke detectors in more than 1000 residences in their district.

In fact, LPFD3 is second only to New Orleans Fire Dept. for the amount of detectors installed in their district.
They assist with automobile accidents and are the only rescuers trained to use the Jaws of Life equipment. They are the official HazMat team when needed for spills or meth lab deconstruction.

Traditionally, they never turn down any type of emergency except for domestic violence situations and shootings, but once the scene is cleared by police officers, they are willing to assist where needed.

“Training is the key to it all,” said Montez. “What it always comes down to is the better trained you are the easier you can deal with any situation. There’s no replacement for experience.”

The men recalled situations that were tough for them, such as one many years ago that resulted in the death of six children. Another moment that stood out in recent years was when Frank’s Supermarket in Golden Meadow went up in flames. The group spoke about how intense the fire was and how they were amazed at how well their firefighters worked together tirelessly to put it out.

For Chief Guidry, seeing how the group operated after Hurricane Katrina is what stands out the most as far as proving that LPFD3 is a brotherhood.

“There were only 10 of us here, because of the mandatory evacuation status, and we were answering 12 emergency calls a day for 10 days straight,” he said. “Our volunteer firefighters were itching to get back in the parish to help us out. I’ll never forget that.”

Future plans include the possibility of a firehouse on the Bourg-Larose highway for emergencies in that area as well as eventually moving the smaller, older Galliano station closer to the airport. For now, constant training and education is what’s on the menu.

“We have huge companies down here and an even more sobering thought is what would happen if a huge fire broke out in LOOP or Port Fourchon? We are trained to and will continue training so we can handle those scenarios, even though we hope we never have to,” said Griffin.

Each year the LPFD3 holds an open house in the fall so people can view their equipment, meet personnel and learn about fire prevention. In the last few years, anywhere from 600 – 1200 people have attended the open houses.

“We’re here to keep residents in our district safe. We hold a strong sense of community and willingness to help, plus running into a burning building and saving lives is a feeling like no other,” said Guidry.

For more information about the Lafourche Parish Fire District 3 and the programs they offer, visit or call Fire Central at 985-632-8068.