By Jennifer Marshall
We depend on our first responders for our safety, our health and our general well-being. When we need them, they’re always there for us, so we need to be there for them, too.
On a sunny Monday morning October 29, the residents of North Phoenix celebrated the Groundbreaking of Fire Station 55 at the northeast corner of I-17 and Jomax Road. The construction of this new station has been a long time coming, and thanks to the tireless efforts of local residents and the City of Phoenix, this state-of-the-art firehouse is scheduled to open in the spring of 2019.
The need for a fire station in this area dates back to 2001; that’s when a general obligation bond was approved to buy the property. In 2006, construction was scheduled to begin, but when the economy took a downward turn, the project was shelved. Thankfully, prosperity returned, and as a result, this area of North Phoenix experienced a huge growth spurt.
Burgeoning neighborhoods meant a greater need for community services such as fire and rescue. That’s when neighbors banded together to express their needs. As a result, the City of Phoenix authorized a temporary fire station to operate out of an extended stay hotel that could serve both sides of I-17 going north and south.
While this fire company was a welcome addition to the neighborhood and residents were thankful for this new service, the average response time, which was anywhere from 13 to 14 minutes, was still longer than what everyone wanted. Residents advocated for the building of Station 55, which is located approximately one mile from their base of operation at the extended stay.
Once completed, Station 55 will reduce response time by half. This faster response time will mean more lives will be saved and more property spared from the ravages of fire.
Station 55 will be the first firehouse the City of Phoenix has built in 10 years. At 11,000 square feet, this brand new facility will accommodate 10 firefighters. This modern firehouse will contain energy efficient materials like a heavily insulated roof. And since firefighters deal with all types of emergencies, including handling toxic substances, the new station will have built-in features to protect and keep those serving us safe and healthy.
Nine people participated in the Groundbreaking Shovel Ceremony including such dignitaries as: Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams, City Manager Ed Zuercher, Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner, Principal Architect Gerrald Adams of Perlman architects of Arizona and Esteemed Retired Firefighter Benny Ashley.
“I truly appreciate the partnership that we have with the community, you folks coming forward has allowed us to move forward with this fire station. We can’t be successful without the support of the community,” said Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner.