Irving’s leaders, fire chiefs, and several residents came together to celebrate the grand opening of a new fire station on Thursday, Aug. 10.
Fire Station 12, located off Interstate 635 between Belt Line Road and Olympus Boulevard, will serve the communities of Hackberry Creek, Valley Ranch, and La Villita.
“The grand opening was a celebration of a long time vision,” said Irving Fire Chief Victor Conley. “We’ve got a council and a city management staff that saw the vision become a reality because of all the growth up here in North Irving.”
Construction started in the spring of 2016. This past July, the Joint Fire Training Facility was opened, which is shared with the City of Grand Prairie. The training facility, along with the brand new fire station, have helped Irving receive the Insurance Services Office class 1 rating.
“It’s a win-win for the community and the fire department,” Conley said. “We achieved the ISO 1 rating. For the fire department, all that means is more resources to better serve our community. What the community got was an insurance break.”
A study performed through an international fire organization projected the need for a station in North Irving. The station needed to meet compliance with the national emergency response time, which for a fire-related medical emergency is four minutes and eight minutes.
City councilman Brad LaMorgese said 80 percent of the city was within that eight minute response time, the 20 percent in the north was not.
“Even though our firefighters do a great job and many times could meet that response time, we now know we’re going to be within that response time,” LaMorgese said. “I’ve come to learn from the firefighters that every minute is critical when you’re trying to keep a piece of property from going up in flames and keep people safe.”
Those who attended the grand opening had the opportunity to tour the facility and explore the new fire trucks. The fire station will house an aerial Tiller truck, a fire engine and an ambulance. The Tiller truck is a new concept for Irving that allow firefighters to turn sharp corners to better reach tight areas.
“Each one of these pieces of equipment cost around $1 million or over, so it’s an expensive piece of our budget, but definitely worth it,” LaMorgese said. “Public safety is a vast majority of our budget. Sometimes spending is frowned upon. I want to spend the money wisely and be very responsible with it.”
In order to welcome the new equipment, firefighters and guests participated in the Fire Apparatus Wash Down/Push Back. The new equipment was christened with water before being pushed into the station. The tradition dates back to when horse-drawn fire wagons were used.
“It’s a symbolic tradition we do when we open up a new station,” Conley said. “It signifies that we got new equipment, we’re taking care of it for the community, and it’s ready to respond.”
A ten man crew will be on shift every day, 24 hours a day, including four on the aerial truck, four on the engine truck and two on the ambulance. Many of the crew members worked on cleaning the facility to get it ready weeks before the opening.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said State 12 Fire Captain Darrell Hall. “It’s been a lot of work, it’s been well worth it, and it’s actually kind of a relief for all the guys to actually have a home again. I’m happy that it’s done. The city has really stepped up and given us something that we think is going to serve the city and citizens for a long time.