Donaldsonville's $2.1 million fire station celebrated with grand opening

Michael Tortorich
A large group gathers to the cut the cake inside the new fire engine bay.

Donaldsonville Fire Station #110 officially opened the morning of Thursday, Dec. 5.

A grand opening event commemorated the 10,000-square-foot facility at 911 Marchand Drive.

The $2.1 million station can accommodate the department's five engines, including the 100-foot ladder truck, which did not fit in the previous building along Lafourche Street.

The department, comprised of more than 30 paid and volunteer firefighters, serves both the city and the unincorporated areas of west Ascension Parish.

Though the first shovel of dirt was turned over during a ceremony on Aug. 2, 2018, the undertaking had been years in the making. The new station was funded by a 20-year millage, supported by the residents of the City of Donaldsonville.

Donaldsonville Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr. was exuberant as he greeted attendees to the ceremony.

"This is definitely a beautiful day in the City of Donaldsonville," he said.

The Mayor commended members of the City Council for their efforts throughout the process.

"Without them, I couldn't do anything," Sullivan said.

He continued by recognizing everyone who played a role in the fire station's creation.

Domain Architecture, Capital Construction, GSA, and the City of Donaldsonville staff all worked together on the project.

"It's been a long time coming, but it's finally here," Sullivan said.

He also recognized the support of local officials, including District 2 State Sen. Ed Price, Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa, Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre, State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, and Judge Erin Wiley Lanoux.

"We started some 10, 12 years ago talking about building a new fire station. The city doesn't have a lot of funds. We make everything by a wing and a prayer," the Mayor said.

Through an election, residents approved a 5 mill property tax for ten years to build a new fire station. Years later, voters approved an additional decade of the tax.

"They showed they had faith in us as leaders to make sure we would one day make this fire station a reality," Sullivan said. "We stand here today very proud to say this $2.1 million fire station is gorgeous, and has brought a lot of beauty to the city. We get compliments everywhere we go about the new station."

The Sheriff was among the local leaders to commend the Mayor and Council on seeing the project through.

"When you come into Donaldsonville now, this is just a great building to see. It gives you a warm feeling coming into this great little community," Webre said.

He also pointed out the strong relationship between local law enforcement and the fire department.

"We're all first responders. We work together and see things through. We make sure we provide the best services for the City of Donaldsonville and the parish," Webre said.

A performance on bagpipes led the procession of firefighters as they entered. The somber remembrance was in honor of Ronald "Rocky" Morris, who died at age 55 on June 14, 2013.

Morris had been heavily involved with the Donaldsonville Fire Department during his life. In his honor, Station 120 on Hwy. 1 bears his name.

On Tuesday morning, fellow firefighters placed a wreath as a memorial.

Acting Fire Chief Adam Gautreaux followed with a brief history of the city's fire department.

At least seven fire companies have preceded the current evolution of the department. Bucket brigades date back to 1846.

"We will soon enclose a time capsule to be opened in 50 years," Gautreaux said.

Browning, who served as Gonzales Fire Chief before becoming the state Fire Marshal, recognized firefighters "past, present, and future" in his remarks.

"As I pass this station, I will remember this day as I was able to stand before you and celebrate this accomplishment," he said.

Sullivan then honored the last seven fire chiefs, dating back nearly a century. They are: G.J. Mistretta (1926-1945, 1949-1969), Lorenzo Milano (1945-1949), Pasquale Fontana (1970-1979), August F. Bradford (1980-1992), Kirk P. Landry (1992-2005), Chuck D. Montero (2005-2017), and James S. MacDonald (2017-2019).

Bradford, Montero, and MacDonald were in attendance and given commemorative plaques. Family members received plaques on behalf of those who are deceased.

A large crowd gathered in front of the building for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The event concluded with refreshments and cake.

Click here for our full photo gallery of the Fire Station 110 opening ceremony.