Medford's new three-bay fire station near the corner of Columbus and Stewart avenues opened its doors to more than 100 visitors Monday.
Fire Station 2, which replaces a small 70-year-old facility on West Eighth Street, was built at a cost of $4 million by Adroit Construction Co. of Ashland and was designed by ORW Architecture of Medford.
Apart from offering a modern station, the new building is designed to improve firefighting service and response time in Medford. The station will have the newest fire engine in the department's fleet, bought at a cost of $700,000. Both the station and fire engine were officially put into service Monday.
"Our call times will be improved," Mayor Gary Wheeler said.
The red and brown, 10,000-square-foot station at 1107 Stewart Ave. will be the westernmost facility for Medford Fire-Rescue, providing better coverage for one of the fastest growing sections of the city.
It's been a long road to build the fire station, after cost overruns for the new police headquarters and new fire stations sent planners back to the drawing boards to cut costs.
"There have been some tough votes," Councilor Kevin Stine said.
David Wilkerson with ORW said, "It was not an easy path. It's especially gratifying to see this building today."
Fire trucks will have better access to the station than at the previous facility, which had only a single bay.
Designed for seven firefighters, the station initially will be staffed with four, allowing room to grow.
Besides separate bedrooms, the station has a large entertainment room, huge kitchen and a workout room.
Fire engines can pull into the bays from the back of the building and then pull out in front for direct access to Stewart.
Battalion Chief Ron Nelson showed off some of the new features, including a room designed to store hoses and a special machine used to clean firefighters' turnouts, which get particularly gritty during a fire.
The station has an updated ventilation system in the fire engine bays to prevent fumes from getting into the living quarters. Among the problems with the Eighth Street station, in addition to its small size, was the occasional presence of fumes in the living quarters when the trucks' engines were fired up.
"I don't have any complaints," Nelson said. "We're very thankful."
A similar fire station should be open sometime in March off Table Rock Road in north Medford. Fire Station 4 will be slightly bigger because it will include training facilities for firefighters and a larger office area.
When the City Council faced a financial shortfall for the fire station projects, it initially dropped the rebuilding of Fire Station 3 at the corner of Siskiyou Boulevard and and Highland Drive in east Medford.
Plans to replace Fire Station 3 are now moving forward, however, after the city was able to reduce costs in building the two fire stations and the new police headquarters.
Once Fire Station 3 is completed sometime next year, the city will have three new fire stations and a new police headquarters.