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    Default Fire station makeover ‘extreme'

    Fire station makeover ‘extreme'
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    By Elisabeth Enloe/The News staff writer Posted: 03/04/06 - 07:16:31 pm CST

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    Top, flags fly in the sea breeze above the newly renovated fire station at Sabine Pass. Middle, the fire station as it looked earlier in the week. Bottom, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition workers and onlookers cheer at the completion of the work. Mike Tobias/The News


    SABINE PASS - Hundreds of people gathered under bright blue skies Saturday to watch the unveiling of the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” restoration of Sabine Pass Fire Station.

    The event culminated a week's worth of frantic activity by the cast and crew of the popular ABC television show and hundreds of volunteers as they took on the renovation of the Sabine Pass School theater and auditorium and the local fire station, Port Arthur Fire Department Station 4.

    The aging fire station was scarcely recognizable from its former sad, dilapidated state after the intensive facelift out front and complete redesign inside.

    A lighthouse now tops the small station and the exterior has been painted a cheery shade of red. Tall palm trees flank the entrance, making up a small part of the extensive landscaping on the grounds.

    On Saturday morning, just hours away from the “big reveal,” blue-shirted workers busied themselves with last minute touches, including the construction of some very unusual chairs.


    The chairs, made from cut strips of fire hoses tacked on to chair frames, provide startling aesthetic appeal in a gritty marriage where form meets function.

    Lumberton twins Abigail and Keifer Reins were lucky enough to watch and help out Stretch Sculpture artist Jeff “Stretch” Rumaner make some of the chairs.

    “They're actually really comfortable,” Keifer Reins, 9, said. “It's been pretty neat helping him, I got to work with him earlier this week too.

    “I've never seen chairs like that. There's a table too, made out of all (firefighter) axes.”

    The twins like watching the show along with their firefighter father, William Reins, who is the assistant fire chief of the Lumberton Fire Department, and are eagerly awaiting the airing of the show.

    Family homes are usually the focus of the show, but Sabine Pass is the fourth stop in a series of storm restoration projects along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast.

    Hurricane Rita all but destroyed the small community when it made landfall last September, with 120 mph winds and a storm surge of several feet. When the storm was over, there was not a building or home in Sabine Pass left unscathed.

    For the storm recovery projects, show producers wanted to work on buildings that have community wide impact as opposed to one or two homes in areas where few homes still stand.

    The Sabine Pass Fire Station has been out of operation since the storm, with fire fighters and first responders working out of a trailer at a nearby U.S. Coast Guard Station, Port Arthur Fire Chief Larry Richard said Saturday.

    “Really I'm speechless,” Richard said. “Awesome is the word that comes to mind when you just think of all of the people that have come out and helped with his.”

    The Sabine Pass firefighters were transferred to a fire station in downtown Port Arthur this week so they wouldn't snatch glances at the project, and the Port Arthur staff came to Sabine Pass to work, Richard said.

    Saturday was the first time the firefighters were able to see their new building.

    “This is going to allow us to move back in within the next week,” Richard said. “If the city would have had to do this it would have taken more than a year.”

    Working on the storm projects was a moving experience for both the cast and crew of the show and the many volunteers who worked on them.

    “This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life here in Sabine Pass,” Paul DiMeo, one of the show's celebrity carpenters, said while he was out greeting the crowd, posing for photographs with fans and signing autographs.

    “We've been all around the Gulf Coast, so we've seen a lot of devastation. The giving has got to continue.”

    DiMeo had the honor of raising the U.S. flag and the Texas state flag on the poles in front of the fire station, which elicited cheers from everyone present.

    What Sally Martin, a public relations manager for the Houston based MCA Communications who volunteered on site all week, finds most incredible is the way all of the different construction and design professionals worked together.

    “Different trades don't have to work side-by-side in construction,” Martin said. “One group comes in and does their work and then the next group comes in.

    “This week you had every different trade working together. The camaraderie was immense because it was such a worthwhile opportunity - it just clicked.”

    More than 125 volunteers, representing more than 100 companies, worked with all donated supplies, services and materials to complete the project within the 100 hour deadline, Martin said.

    MCA Communications works in partnership with the Trevino Group Inc., the Houston based construction company that managed the construction project.

    The Sabine Pass show is expected to air on Thursday, April 13, as the fourth in a series of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” storm recovery projects.

    Contact this reporter at

    eenloe@panews.com

    (409) 721-2425

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    A tip of the leather to the good folks at ABC and Extreme Home Makeover for taking on projects like this. I know there are many, many other departments who are in the same situation that Sabine Pass was before this build. Congratulations go out to the Members of Sabine Pass FD, and we will all be watching the show when it airs.
    A "Good" fire is not measured by how big it is, but by the fact that everyone is going home safe, and that we possibly learned something new about firefighting. Member:IACOJ

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    We should have some kind of sticky to remind us all when the show will air. I will forget the date by tommorow.

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