Oklahoma City firefighters are celebrating the grand opening of not one, but two brand new fire stations. New technology will mean quicker response times for the community.
City leaders helped cut the ribbon at the new versions of Station 21 and Station 23 Monday, which are replacing their much older counterparts. They were some of the oldest fire stations that were still in service, built in 1951 and 1975 respectively, but these new state-of-the-art facilities are helping bring the department into the 21st century.
Inside the identical buildings, shiny new rigs, color-coded LED lights, personal bedrooms and personalized alert systems are not just for the looks. Fire Chief Richard Kelley says, “Everything is designed here to get them out of the fire station in a quick manner.”
The goal is to be gone in 60 seconds or less. When an emergency alert activates, red LED lights guide the way to the engine, signs above the doors to the garage flash the address of the call while a timer in the garage counts the seconds.
During a firefighter's 24-hour shift, alarms are programmed to sound for their individual duties. “It will only activate if their company gets an alarm rather than having to be woken up for no reason,” explains Battalion Chief Brian Stanaland.
Firefighters value their shut-eye more than you might think. “Sleep deprivation is huge in the fire service,” Kelley explains.
In old stations, alarms were not the only things keeping firefighters up at night. “There’s always some guy that snores unbelievably loud,” says Lt. Bill Boyd, who had been living in the 1950s-era Station 21.
Previous living conditions were far from ideal. Besides the firefighters bunking in the same room as each other plus their workout equipment, the 66-year-old Station 21 was literally falling apart with cracks in the walls and doors that would not close. Now, sleeping in the weight room is a thing of the past. Each new building includes a separate one.
The firefighters are grateful voters approved the 2007 bond issue to pay for the overhaul, and they are eager to show their gratitude to the community. “Everything that we do, they’re there every day, supporting us, helping us,” Kelley says. “We want to give back. We want to make sure that we give the best service that we can.”
The 2007 bond is also paying to replace two more stations, which are expected to break ground next year. The 2017 bond that voters just approved will pay for an additional three in the years to come.