Old family house transformed into new Gardendale fire station

Gardendale is growing so are fire response times. Public safety fears prompted the city to open a second fire station. But the station means more than just faster aid. It's also preserving a piece of history.

A white house on Fieldstown Road is now Gardendale Fire Station 2. Just last summer, William Fields called it home.

"We built this house here. I drove nails putting the decking on top," said Fields.

As the historical marker in front of the building indicates, there's a little more to the story. Fields' grandfather purchased 160 acres after the Civil War. He gave pieces of it to his eight children when they married. His father built a store where the station garage now sits in 1938.

Fields says he gave the last piece of family property to the fire department for a reason.

"Most of the people here needed it here. I've had three heart attacks, and they've had to come all the way up there to the house. They saved my life," said Fields.

Fire Chief Clint Doss wants to save lives and houses by taking the eight to ten minute response time for the surrounding 500 houses down to three or four.

"In a medical call, four to six minutes without oxygen to the brain, we have some brain damage. Three to four minutes with a working fire inside a home can be the difference between a small kitchen fire to a well involved house fire," he said.

Gardendale is continuing to grow. A Panera Bread, UPS Store, and Etc. have opened in the last week. A new Publix is opening next winter. The 20 million dollar development will include TJ Maxx and other stores. Station 2 will provide backup for the complex."The key to this is maintain the growth while maintaining a sense of community," said Gardendale Mayor Othell Phillips.

The city was able to maintain that sense of community and keep costs down by renovating Fields' old house."It means everything in the world to me," said Fields.

The city will build a third fire station. Land has already been purchased on Tarrant Road.