According to WEMA director Joey Cooper, a hose uncoupling is traditional for fire stations in place of the better-known ribbon cutting.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto spoke first at the ceremony about the history of the project and the work it took to get the station operational. Hutto thanked the people who worked on the project from the start, including county commissioner and former WEMA director Jerry McFarland, county commissioner and former Wilson County sheriff Terry Ashe and current WEMA director Joey Cooper.
“Most importantly are the men and women who wear these uniforms,” said Hutto. “It’s a different lifestyle than many of us are accustomed to. We get to get out in the morning and go to work. We get to come home in the afternoon and see our families and enjoy them. These men and women spend 24 [hours] on and 48 [hours] off. They spend every third night in a bed that’s not with their family, and their families know that at a moment’s notice, they may get a call that they’re not getting to come home; and sometimes that may be for good.”
Ashe spoke after Hutto and talked about the role the new station will play in the Norene community as well as the benefit of having an ambulance stationed in the town. Norene is located about 12 miles south of Lebanon.
“This fire hall was built not just for the families that are here today, but for the children and the grandchildren and the children yet to be born in this community,” said Ashe. “I can see three houses in my mind right now because we didn’t have this station. I know two people who passed away from major medical issues because we didn’t have an ambulance out here.
“There’s $800,000 worth of equipment in this room, and a payroll around $450,000 recurring annually. That’s an investment in this community; a big investment, and I’m proudly invested.”
According to Ash, Wilson County sheriff Robert Bryan is also excited about the potential use of the station for Wilson County sheriff’s deputies.
The last speaker at the event was Cooper, who elaborated on what he felt was the goal of the new station.
“It’s been a long time coming and we’re ready to serve this community,” said Cooper. “This new station will provide ambulance service and fire protection to the residents of this community and the surrounding communities here. It will provide better response times and be a great service to this area. We continue striving to improve quality of life with the level of care that we provide for citizens in this county.”
At the end of the ceremony, a call came over the police scanner announcing station 11 as open and operational and Cooper uncoupled the fire hose, as per tradition.