City of Baker transforms old fire station into economic opportunity

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - Baker has found a treasure buried in the city's old fire station.  It is an economic opportunity leaders hope will open doors for people who live there.

The old Baker fire station has been sitting silent for four years. It closed when the department moved into a new facility in November of 2009. City leaders recently uncovered a gem inside the vacant building.

Mayor Harold Rideau said what is happening inside the old structure is going to make the city shine.

"We'll have three or four lathes in here, a milling machine, saws, grinders, welding," Rideau said.

The former fire station is Baton Rouge Community College's newest training site. Students will learn the electrical, machine, and millwright skills to dive right into work without having to go far. The mayor said filling vacancies is just part of the plan.

"If companies see we are working to try to provide the labor that's more attractive they're going to look at coming if not to Baker, the surrounding areas," Rideau said.

BRCC Executive Director of Continuing Education, Girard Melancon, Ph.D. said the school works closely with industry. The training college saw a need and wanted to help people plug into the workforce.

"The plants are there but I think the general community felt there was a disconnect. They may see Stupp Corporation there but they say, hey how could I be gainfully employed at Stupp," Melancon explained.

Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Louisiana Technical College Rapid Response Program, a $50,000 grant Louisiana Representative Dalton Honore helped secure from the Department of Labor, and a $10,000 contribution from Stupp, students will be able to enroll for $150.00 rather than the usual $800.00.

Melancon said the opportunity is open to everyone.

"Those not employed or under employed or those just looking for a career change, the program is designed to meet your needs," Melancon said.

Mayor Rideau hopes the investment will encourage residents to live and work in the city and stick around to enjoy its newfound treasure.

"We have to look at ten, 15, 20 years down the road as to where we want to see Baker," Rideau said.

Those electrical classes in Baker start on Monday, December 9, 2013.

The millwright courses begin on January 21, 2014.

There are 24 spots available.

To register or for more information, call 255-216-8239 or email

You can also sign up at

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