All fired up: New station opens; ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours are March 29

Fire station readies for ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department Deputy Chief Vance Gray, left, and Queen Creek Public Safety Manager Joe LaFortune look forward to officially opening the new Fire Station No. 1 in the Town Center. The 13,200-square-foot building took just over a year to construct. The men are to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony that starts at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 29. Deputy Chief Gray is to serve as its master of ceremony. The public is invited to attend and to tour the station after the ceremony. (Wendy Miller/Independent Newspapers)

After a year of construction, the replacement Fire Station No. 1 for the Queen Creek Fire and Medical Department became operational March 17.

To mark the milestone, town officials are inviting the public to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, March 29, and tour the station immediately afterward.

The ceremony
The events will start at 4:30 p.m. on-site at 20678 E. Civic Parkway, just south of Queen Creek Town Hall.

Slated to speak at the ceremony are Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney, Town Manager John Kross, Fire Chief Ron Knight and representatives from the building contractors. They are Bill Cox, executive vice president of CORE Construction, and Ken Powers, principal-in-charge, Perlman Architects of AZ Inc.

Deputy Fire Chief Vance Gray said during an interview tours will take patrons throughout the new 13,200-square-foot facility.

Fire Station No. 1

“The new station is very exciting,” Fire Chief Ron Knight said in a press release. “It is built to current standards with important safety features that will help our community and our firefighters.”

The new station on 4 acres replaces the original Fire Station No. 1, which served the community from a 5,200-square-foot building at 22407 S. Ellsworth Road, also in Town Center. It is part of an $18.9 million capital improvement project that includes a law enforcement/community chambers building being built on the site.

(Read about the firefighter recruits training to staff the new fire station)

Replacing the old fire station and adding a third fire station were identified in 2013 as a priority in the town’s updated Municipal Center Master Plan and updated Fire and Emergency Services Master Plan, according to a report provided to the Queen Creek Independent by Deputy Chief Gray.

The expanded fire and medical services were designed to meet the need of the town’s growing population, which grew by 27 percent between 2010 and a special mid-decade census ordered by the town and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2015.

In 2010, the census bureau listed the town’s population as 26,361. The updated population count for the town of Queen Creek as of Oct. 1, 2015, was 33,649, according to a press release.

The population build-out is about 90,000, Constance Halonen-Wilson, the town’s public information officer, said during an interview.

The new station is divided into four areas: the apparatus bays; support; battalion quarters, which includes living and two sleeping quarters, and an office; and the crew side, which includes living space, an office and 10 sleeping quarters, or dorms, Ms. Halonen-Wilson said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The station is served by a full company of firefighters, which consists of a captain, an engineer and two firefighters. The companies at Fire Station No. 1 and Fire Station No. 2, 24787 S. Sossaman Road, are led by a battalion chief, who is housed at Fire Station 1.​

The areas can be expanded to accommodate the addition of a second company in the future, Mr. LaFortune said.

The living quarters also include a 400-square-foot fitness room, which can be used by other town staff, and a laundry room.

The amenities are intended to eliminate the need for firefighters to go off-site to work out, which they had to do in the past.

Having laundry facilities also helps prevent the firefighters from bringing home contaminated clothing and gear, the deputy chief said.

“It’s ideal to keep our firefighters and their apparatus centrally located,” he said.

Fire Station No. 1 has three bays, one more than its predecessor. The doors on the front of the bays, where fire trucks exit onto Ellsworth Loop Road, are equipped with bi-fold doors.

The bi-fold doors open faster than traditional roll-up doors and are intended to help improve response times.
“They open in less than in half the time,” Deputy Chief Vance said.

The bi-fold door opens in about 7 seconds, while the roll-up door takes about 21 seconds, Ms. Halonen-Wilson said. The former is more durable and costs less to maintain, she said.

The rear of the building, where the fire truck returns to the station and time is not an issue, is equipped with roll-up doors.

Bi-fold doors also provide a better visual indicator that the door is open, Joe LaFortune, the town’s public safety manager, said during an interview.

The solid portion of a fire truck body above its windshield can obscure the top of a roll-up door from the fire truck driver’s vision. This can make it difficult for him or her to tell whether the door is completely open.

The bi-fold doors eliminate that problem, Mr. LaFortune said.

The new station also promotes a healthier environment for both personnel and equipment. The flooring throughout the public areas is made from ground concrete. The material is easier to clean and maintain and reduces the crew’s exposure to biohazards, Deputy Chief Gray said.

In addition, a ventilation system in the bays helps reduce the crew’s exposure to diesel exhaust, the deputy chief said.

The station also has areas in which to store fire-turnout gear and other protective equipment as well as firefighting vehicles.

The former reduces the possibility of equipment contaminating the firefighters’ clothing and skin, while the latter helps to protect the vehicles — which until now were stored outside — from the elements, Deputy Chief Gray said.

Also, the new building has a generator that will kick in should there be a power outage, Mr. LaFortune said.

Old Station No. 1
The future of the original Fire Station No. 1, which is owned by the town, has not been determined, Deputy Chief Gray said.

A number of the town’s departments are interested in relocating there, but nothing has been confirmed.

“We haven’t received directions from the town on which will take place there,” he said.

Opening soon
A new law enforcement and community chambers building also is under construction in Town Center. The town expects the building to open this summer.

Another ribbon-cutting ceremony is being planned for that occasion, according to a press release.

Construction of another new fire station, Fire Station No. 3, is also under way in the northwest area of town on Queen Creek Road just west of Sossaman Road.

Fire Station No. 3 is expected to be complete in late summer, according to the release.

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