District breaks ground on its first fire station
Dave Perry/The Explorer, Board chairman Earle Ruhnke led the Mountain Vista Fire Department ground-breaking event on Saturday morning.

Mountain Vista Fire District formally broke ground on its first fire station Saturday morning, with a vow to provide improved emergency response to areas of the Northwest close to its Shannon Road location.

"This is history-making for Mountain Vista Fire District, and especially for its residents," said Earle Ruhnke, chairman of the district's board. "This is the first fire house in this area."

Mountain Vista Fire District Station 1 is being built on district-owned land at 9310 N. Shannon, north of Hardy Road and north of the Omni Tucson National Golf Resort. The 11,500-square-foot station will have capacity to house 11 firefighters, with 2-1/2 bays for apparatus and equipment, and room for expansion if needed.

 "We don't have a facility in this area," said Scott Butler, Mountain Vista's administrative chief.

"We'll have coverage for this area that hasn't had the best coverage in the past," said Jerry Phillips, treasurer of the board.

The location "really fits nicely" in relation to other stations, Butler said. "There will be a network of resources available to the community, no matter who the organization is."

WSM Architects is the designer of the building, to be constructed by Lloyd Construction. Ground has been scraped, and the contractor plans to start building this week. Completion is expected by August 2010. 

When the facility is operational, it will "obviously, decrease response times, and provide more staffing and more supportive working conditions," Butler said. He mentioned specifically the station's facilities to help firefighters cleanse themselves and equipment of blood-borne pathogens and biohazards. "It will keep them and their families a little safer," Butler said.

Mountain Vista has a contract with Rural / Metro to provide firefighters, emergency medical technicians and equipment. James Stoltenberg, Rural / Metro assistant chief, told the crowd his company is "very excited to see this station opened. We look forward to many years of continued service with Mountain Vista."

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