They sat waiting. Five gleaming fire trucks, doors wide open, their chrome polished to such a pristine shine it's hard to believe they were ever used to battle a sooty blaze.
Several pairs of black boots, previously licked by fire, are placed around the ladder and engine trucks. Thick overalls are pushed down around the boots, so they can be put on in under a minute.
It's so quiet, but that calm can instantly turn, and, like a switch, fire station No. 9 will light up, prepared for just about any emergency that gets called in at a moment's notice.
Serving west Concord
No. 9, the newest fire station in Cabarrus County, was built more than a year ago to serve the fast-growing western part of Concord. Neighborhoods like Skybrook and Moss Creek and areas southwest of International Drive to Lowe's Motor Speedway are all protected by this sprawling, four-acre station situated off Poplar Tent and Ivey Cline roads. No. 9 is the first of three new stations planned to serve western Concord.
Known as a battalion station, or headquarters for western Concord, No. 9 houses ladder and engine companies, hazmat and decon teams, which are called in to handle chemical releases, and a battalion truck. A community room located within the building is open for the public to use as well. With a kitchen and full restrooms, it can double as a shelter in times of disaster.
The 30 personnel assigned to No. 9 take turns manning the station, 10 at a time, working 24 hours on, 48 hours off, waiting to respond to anything, from fires, car wrecks and heart attacks to freeing ducks and dogs from pool drains.
Answering the call
Sometimes their need is urgent, like the January house fires in Poplar Woods, where they assisted the Odell Volunteer Fire Department in fighting the three-house blaze.
"That was one of the biggest ones we had in a long time," said Mark Goss, captain of Ladder 9, the company assigned to the 75-foot ladder truck housed within the station. "We stopped it where we found it."
Sometimes the emergencies are not so life threatening. The ladder truck was used last summer to rescue a parrot nestled in a tall tree. Each time a firefighter reached for it, the bird would hop over to the next branch.
"We ended up putting a blanket over it," said Goss, returning the bird to its thankful owner.
For the next 24 hours, Goss, along with his men, Rick Gilleland, Jason Dyer, Scott Payne and Josh Simpson will live in the station, sleeping in the barracks, awaiting any need that arises.
Goss, who became a firefighter at age 17, is the most seasoned of the men, with 27 years of experience. He has seen mill fires and the collapse of the pedestrian bridge at Lowe's Motor Speedway up close.
Each of the men take turns cooking, and they sit around the kitchen table like a family for meals. Tonight Simpson, the newest member of Ladder 9, is the cook, and he prepares a spread of ham, rice and green beans for the guys.
"I'm OK," he said of his cooking. "I haven't burned too much stuff."
But if he does, they'll be prepared.