The public got to tour the newest fire station for the South San Joaquin County Fire Authority on Saturday as Station 95 opened on the corner of Tracy Hills Drive and Criseldo Mina Avenue in the Tracy Hills development.
Fire authority Chief Randall Bradley said that the target date for firefighters to actually move in was Wednesday, but that could be delayed until early next week pending certification of a generator that will keep the station operable in the event of an area-wide power failure.
It’s one of seven stations within the fire authority, which was formed in 1999 through a merger with the Tracy Fire Department and Tracy Rural County Fire Protection District. Bradley noted that it’s the first additional station to open in the past 20 years. Most other stations within the authority have either been substantially upgraded or replaced with more modern facilities.
Integral Communities is developing the 1,850-acre Tracy Hills project, which began construction three years ago. Station 95 was paid for mostly by the developer in accordance with an agreement with the city.
“Our city council had the foresight to understand that the Tracy Hills development was a little bit outside of town, and we needed a fire station right away,” Bradley said. “They pushed hard in their development agreement to make sure that this fire station was built early on in the process.”
Bradley added that team of fire department officials, led by Division Chief David Bramell, stayed engaged with the construction company, D.M. Alegre Construction, Inc., of Tracy, to make sure the project stayed on time and on budget.
“I keep hearing that it just was an incredible team, so I just stayed out of the way and let them build this, and I’m so impressed with what they put together,” Bradley said.
In his remarks to the crowd at Saturday’s event, Tracy Hills Project Manager Mike Souza recalled a little history of Tracy Hills, going back 30 years to the start of the planning process. He described how building the station, with Tracy Hills putting up $5.5 million of the $6.6 million cost, is part of the developer’s partnership with the city to provide infrastructure for the newest part of town.
“This fire station is one of the hallmarks of us being able to do that,” Souza said. “This is a fire station that we partnered with the city to design, the private sector built it and today we’ll be dedicating it to the city for Randy and the South County Fire Authority to be able to use to be able to provide fire service not only for the Tracy Hills community but for all the citizens of Tracy.”
Souza noted that Alegre Construction delivered the project nearly a year to the day after the groundbreaking.
“It was a great partnership we were able to have to bring a small local contractor, a family-owned business. Dennis and Sid and their son Patrick were here almost every day working on this project making sure they could deliver it to you and using a number of local subcontractors,” Souza said.
“I think that’s one of the things we’re most proud of, is being able to bring local jobs, and being able to have local contractors and be able to get this quality of a facility that could be delivered from local folks.”
Bradley and Souza were joined by local dignitaries, including Tracy Mayor Nancy Young, San Joaquin County District 5 Supervisor and former Mayor Robert Rickman, and Pete Reece and Craig Miller of Tracy Rural Fire District, for the ribbon cutting.
“This station was 20 years in the making and is the result of true team effort between fire agencies, local government and the developer,” Young said. “The opening of this station will give everyone who lives, works and travels through south county some peace of mind knowing that help is right here within this community when we need it.
Rickman added that the station fulfills the role of government of making sure citizens are safe.
“God forbid if something happens, you’ll be able to get a fast response time,” he said. Rickman added that the station opens as people see the Tracy Hills development expand along Interstate 580.
“As it expands, we have to make sure our infrastructure – our firefighters, our police – is kept up, and we adequately make sure everybody is covered.”
After the ribbon-cutting firefighters gave the public guided tours of the 7,065-square-foot facility and displayed the trucks that will be housed at the station.
Bramell showed off the offices and living quarters, including a kitchen designed so each shift has its own refrigerator and cabinets, with stainless steel surfaces that can be easily cleaned and sanitized after each use. There are also bedrooms, meeting rooms, and exercise room, all at the “cold” end of a “hot-warm-cold” design.
The “hot” refers to the decontamination areas on the west side of the building, where firefighters coming in from structure fires and hazardous materials incidents can clean their gear, and driveway where the trucks get their initial wash-down. In the middle is the “warm” area, including the three drive-thru bays where trucks enter in one side and exit out the other, and where all of the gear is checked and stored. It’s all separate from the “cold” area at the east end of the building, including the living quarters and offices that are kept clean.
Bradley noted that the station will include the standard staffing of three people per-shift, including a captain, engineer and firefighter, with at least one of the crew members trained as a paramedic. In addition to a standard engine Station 95, based on its location near the hills and the entrance to Corral Hollow Canyon, will also have an engine designed specifically for wildlands incidents.
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