By Ray King

Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell said Friday that construction on the new fire station located near the Saracen Casino is nearly completed but there is currently no timeline on when it will be put into service.

Appearing on the Oldies 01.3 morning show, Howell said the actual construction is scheduled for completion this month but “we have to do some last-minute things.”

He said those things included ensuring that the station has good communication with radios and internet access

Howell was also asked about what will happen to the old fire station on Commerce Road when the new one is opened.

According to the department’s monthly report, firefighters responded to 168 emergency medical calls in May, less than they normally would, but Howell said that was the result of emergency dispatchers screening calls a little more closely.

“We’re still doing our fair share of emergency calls though,” he said.

There were 12 structure fires in May which was five more than in April. Seven of those fires occurred in Ward 1, including a fire at Poindexter’s Furniture at the intersection of Harding and Main.

Howell said he has not gotten a final report on the cause of that fire but said it started in the attic which normally indicates an electrical fire.

Three of the other structure fires were in Ward 3 while the remaining two were in Ward 4.