Fire-engine-red shovels pierced the dirt of a long-vacant lot in Anaheim on Wednesday morning, breaking ground on what will be the city’s first new fire station in a decade.
In less than a year, the nearly 9,500-sq.-ft. new Station 5, which will be located at 2540 La Palma Ave., is expected to replace the 56-year-old current Station 5 on Kraemer Boulevard. The new station not only will provide firefighters with updated resources to better do their jobs, but it will also allow them to reduce response time to under four minutes, a major goal for the department.
“The new station will provide a better response time to approximately 3,500 calls annually and will lessen the call volume on our busiest firehouse, Fire Station 1,” said Fire Chief Randy Bruegman. He added, “We continually evaluate our service delivery and this new station location was selected with our response time to our residents in mind.”
Bruegman said that the use of computer models allowed his agency to plan smartly for the next 10 years of anticipated growth and also assesses opportunities for service improvements such as the use of the Community Care Response Unit.
But propelling this project forward wasn’t as easy as one would think, despite the obvious need. A combination of luck, intelligence, teamwork and real estate savvy have contributed to the timely development of the new Station 5. This is the first time the department has used a “design-build” method. This brings together builder and architect at the front end before the building plans are developed and submitted, which can cut several months off the project timeline.
Real estate broker Kacey Taormina, a second-generation developer in the city, noticed that the sizable lot next to her old pre-school had been on and off the market for years. Through a public-private partnership, she was able to arrange the purchase of the property on her own and then hand it over to the city during escrow, saving months — if not years — in the process.
“Acres like this are rare,” Taormina said. “It’s a hidden gem.” Hence, the urgency in making sure the lot was acquired, with this project in mind.
She said she and her family are thrilled to help solve local problems like this when they get the opportunity.
“It’s really cool to get into something that is so important to the community,” she said. “People see all the sparkly things [about fire and rescue]and they don’t think about all the needs, like trimming response times. That can be your life.”