Station should get four 911 calls a day
Ty Bowers/The Explorer, Golder Ranch Fire Capt. Jim Hansel readies an engine last Friday at the district's newest station off La Cañada Drive. Firefighters at the new station should respond to about 1,500 calls a year.

For the most part, the walls inside the month-old fire station off La Cañada Drive remain bare, save for a map of the growing Golder Ranch Fire District, which serves about 50,000 residents in Oro Valley, Catalina, SaddleBrooke and Oracle Junction.

New exercise equipment still occupies a corner of the engine garage.

The kitchen looked a little too clean.

“Yeah, it’s nice,” Capt. Jim Hansel said last Friday morning.

During a quick tour, Hansel pointed out the dorm-style rooms, some with beds that had yet to be covered in sheets, and the captain’s office, which lacked a desk and consisted mainly of unpacked boxes.

On June 27, Golder Ranch opened the 7,200-square-foot station, the district’s fifth and the first of three to open in the next two years.

A second station in the SaddleBrooke area should open in January 2009. And, a station at Linda Vista Boulevard and Oracle Road should open its doors in 2010, which should coincide with Rural/Metro’s withdrawal from fire protection in Oro Valley.

The $3 million station off La Cañada will dispatch firefighters along Oro Valley’s “Lambert Lane corridor,” according to Community Services Division Chief John Sullivan.

The station’s first-on-the-scene area stretches west to Ironwood Ridge High School, north to Tangerine Road, and east past Oracle Road.

Golder Ranch officials expect firefighters at the new station to respond to at least four 911 calls per day, making it to emergencies in five minutes or less, as required by Oro Valley Town Code.

“That’s the response standard,” Sullivan said. “That’s why this station’s here.”

In fact, firefighters have less than five minutes to respond to a call, the division chief said.

It takes about a minute to get out of the station and onto the road, he noted.

“The standard is that we respond to medical emergencies in five minutes 90 percent of the time,” Sullivan explained. “It’s five to six minutes for fire emergencies.”

The division chief rattled off the figures as if by rote.

Staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the new station will play host to about 12 firefighters per day, working in three shifts of four. The firefighters work 10, 24-hour days a month, according to Hansel.

Collectively, the fire district responds to about 7,000 calls a year, of which the new station will attend to about 1,500, based on district estimates.

It was a quiet morning last Friday. One firefighter on duty spent his morning hours wiping down the metal kickplates on the station’s doors and cleaning windows. Some others worked on some computers in one of the offices.

At the start of their shift earlier that morning, the crew spent about an 1-1/2 hours checking the supplies of the 2006 American LaFrance fire engine in the garage, Hansel noted.

It’s part of every crew’s routine, something that gets done before everything else.

Likely it’s a routine that should bring comfort to more than a few residents and business owners in the station’s first-due area. Since it opened for business last month, crews from the new station already have made their rounds, checking in with businesses to create plans for how to handle a fire.

Later last Friday, the group led by Hansel would check the pressure of hydrants in the area, such constant preparation an integral part of their job.

But before the group could begin checking items off its to-do list, the station received a non-emergency call. Within 40 seconds, the engine was out on the road.

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