As he made his way through Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s brand-new Station 5, City of Orange Fire Chief Jack Thomas admitted to having a little station envy.
“Yeah, I do,” he said with a smile.
Thomas joined other O.C. fire service agency leaders, as well as Anaheim City Council members and other dignitaries, at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Station 5 on Wednesday, July 25.
A slogan on the custom-made dining table in the sparkling new commercial-grade kitchen said it all:
The Palace – Open 24 Hours
That’s the nickname for Station 5, because, as one firefighter noted:
“This place is a palace.”
The new Station 5, at 2540 E. La Palma Ave., just west of the 57 Freeway, stands on a former empty lot that used to house a liquor store. It replaces the former Station 5, at 1154 N. Kraemer Blvd., now owned by Anaheim Public Utilities in a land swap. In return, AF&R got a property at 4950 E. La Palma Ave. that may eventually be used as a new fire station. Currently, it’s being used as a storage facility for equipment and apparatus.
The new Station 5, which becomes operational Aug. 1 (with a four-person engine company and two ambulance units), isn’t only pretty, with all the latest bells and whistles. It also will result in faster response times to residents and businesses in north Anaheim, AF&R officials said. The area the station serves gets about 4,000 annual calls for service.
“This (represents) a great investment in the community,” said AF&R Chief Randy Bruegman, who in remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony acknowledged all involved in the project. He also thanked the City Council for green-lighting the $5.5 million for the new station.
“A project like this starts many years in advance,” Bruegman noted.
Former AF&R Deputy Chief of Support Services Jeff Alario, who retired in December 2016, led a team of four captains in helping design the new station after touring 15 different fire stations throughout Southern California.
Alario attended Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was followed by a lunch and station tours.
The new Station 5 features a large apparatus bay that can house five to six rigs, and eight individual dorm rooms that include a bed and desk. Most AF&R stations have dorms that several firefighters share.
Station 5 also has separate male and female locker rooms and a separate exercise room with a stair-climbing machine, rowing machine, a stationary bike, weights and a TV. Many fire stations only have room for exercise equipment in the apparatus bay.
Among the other highlights of Station 5 are a complete laundry facility, a commercial-grade ice machine, a turnout room with 24 separate stalls, a captain’s office, and a dayroom with six plush recliners.
AF&R Deputy Chief Tim O’Hara made opening remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and then an AF&R Honor Guard presented the colors.
AF&R Pastor Fernando Villicana delivered the invocation.
“When the citizens of this community pray for help, it will be the firefighters, the paramedics and the EMTs who will become (God’s) answer to their prayers,” said Villicana.
“When that (person) calls 911 in the most desperate moment of her life, the fire service will be there.”
Added Villicana: “We pray for your divine protection over our firefighters and all of our emergency responders as they place themselves in harm’s way on a regular basis.”
Mayor Tom Tait called the ribbon-cutting event a “momentous day” for the city.
“You all should be very proud, and we are,” Tait said. “It’s an honor to be here and (to celebrate) something that better serves our residents. For the residents of north Anaheim, this building represents peace of mind in a time of need.
“Emergency services,” Tait added, “is the most important thing we do in the city.”