Los Fresnos fire department to hold open house and new station
There’s plenty to be thankful for at the new Los Fresnos Volunteer Fire Department. The $1.7 million facility near the rodeo grounds is shaping up to be a place volunteers and staff can call home.
Firefighters and EMS crew members began moving in October, Fire Chief Gene Daniels said, and they will host an open house for the public 10 a.m. Dec. 1.
“As far as we’re concerned, it belongs to the community,” he said.
The most immediately noticeable difference between the old fire station near City Hall and the new station at 100 Rodeo Drive is the size. At 33,000-square-feet, the facility is more than three times larger than the 9,000-square-foot building that housed fire and EMS services for about 30 years.
As the population of Los Fresnos grew, so did concern about traffic congestion and pedestrian safety as fire vehicles went in and out of the 233 S. Alamo St. location, Daniels said.
“When that station was built 30 years ago, there weren’t many houses,” he said, adding that the new station has easy access to the highway and its intersection with Arroyo Boulevard. “We can get in and out a lot quicker and safer for everyone.”
One of the most important changes the new fire station brings is that all vehicles will be housed inside warehouses, which Daniels said will help them last longer. One ladder truck costs about $600,000, he said.
There are also dorms for the EMS staff, some of whom Daniels said had to sleep on a couch in the previous fire station.
The new facility also has a 2,500-square-foot training room the department can use as an emergency operation center and hold CPR and first aid training for the public, he added. The station is equipped with a kitchen and TV area, and part of the 14,500-sqaure-foot warehouse is outfitted with workout equipment.
Daniels said talks about building a new facility started about four years ago, and the nonprofit began saving money to purchase land. Fire department leaders began seriously looking at plans for an upgraded station two years ago, he added, and ground was broken on the location in September 2017.
Daniels said the fire and EMS board of directors looked at what kind of facility the department could afford as well as what would last another 30 to 40 years.
The department’s call volume is steadily increasing, he said. EMS responded to 1,800 calls in 2017 and has reached over 2,000 calls this year, Daniels said. Firefighters were dispatched on 350 calls in 2017 and have been on over 400 calls this year, he added.
The department is made up of 35 volunteer firefighters and 24 staff EMS medics. It has a fleet of three ambulances, two emergency response vehicles, and 14 pieces of fire equipment stored at its new location. Two trucks are at its substation in Bay View.