HURRICANE — Applause erupted Thursday after mayors Ken Neilson of Washington City and Wayne Peterson of Leeds cut a piece of hose in two with a hydraulic Jaws of Life tool marking the completion of the new joint Washington City-Hurricane Valley fire station in the Coral Canyon area.
“(This is) something that will serve our community very well in terms of fire and ambulance services, and I think will do it in a very cost-effective way,” said Peterson, who also chairs the board that oversees the Hurricane Valley Fire District.
Thursday’s open house gave the public an opportunity to tour the new fire station as well as learn more about how firefighters operate. Several Hurricane Valley and Washington City firefighters were also present, as were other fire and civic officials who shared their thoughts and excitement over having the new station fully manned and operational.
Completed a year ago, the new station was used by volunteers from both the Washington Fire Department and Hurricane Valley Fire District. However, Thursday marked a changed from volunteers using the station occasionally to it being staffed by full-time firefighters 24/7.
The fire station will be staffed by both the Washington City Fire Department and the fire district, and will primarily serve Washington City from state Route-9 to Washington Parkway, and Hurricane from SR-9 to the Virgin River and northward to Harrisburg, Hurricane Valley Fire Chief Tom Kuhlmann said.
“It’s awesome to see it finally come to fruition and finally open and provide service to both Hurricane and Washington City,” Washington City Fire Chief Matt Evens said. “It’s groundbreaking really, in that coming together to share the same service.”
Both Evans and Kuhlmann said they looked for a model across the county on how to go about creating and operating a joint-agency fire station and couldn’t find one, which is why Evans considers it a groundbreaking endeavor.
“To have two entities come together, save the taxpayers’ money, increase productivity and response from the same station is unique,” Kuhlmann said.
The joint station allows there to be one fire station instead of two – one per agency – and also cuts down on response times to emergency calls in the new service area. The presence of the new fire station also helps lower insurance rates in the Coral Canyon area.
Prior to its completion, Washington City Councilman Troy Belliston said the city kept a fire truck on standby at the city’s power generation plant on Telegraph Street nearby in order to respond to the Coral Canyon and the surrounding area.
“We really just kind of had a lean-to. We didn’t have facilities, places for our firefighters to sleep,” Belliston said. “Now we can have (them) here in close proximity to Coral Canyon, our response times have gone down – this is a big deal.”
Plans for the new station began to take shape in 2016 and carried an estimated cost of $1.5 million. Ground was broken for the fire station in early 2017 and finished with a price tag around $2.2 million.
The state helped cover some of the cost with a $500,000 grant for the building. The state also provided a $1 million loan at the time for a new ladder truck for the Hurricane Valley Fire District.
Part of the full-time staff for the new fire station from the Washington City side will be made possible through a recently acquired SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant for $721,500 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The grant will cover the salaries and benefits of six new full-time firefighters for the first three years of their employment. The firefighters will be used to help staff the new Coral Canyon fire station as well as a fire station in Washington Fields.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.