Work begins on new Ranchos fire station
After a year and a half of planning, Ranchos volunteer firefighters had the pleasant task of watching the work begin on their new $1.5 million station.
County, Ranchos and East Fork personnel took part in a ground-breaking ceremony Thursday at the site on Mitch Drive. The bigger and better fire station will include room for full-time paramedics to live and work. Currently, two full-time paramedics work out of the station during the day, but go back to the station on County Road at night.
The new station, which is expected to be done next spring, will change that. Al Shankle Construction is expected to begin work within the next couple of weeks.
“We are combining forces to provide improved resources. This is more than concrete and steel,” said East Fork Chief Tod Carlini. “It is significant because it represents the human effort and positive cooperation between so many groups of people.”
Jessica Rossi has been a Ranchos volunteer for 1-1/2 years and said she is glad to see the beginning of the construction.
“It’s a start to a new future for the volunteers and for the whole community. It’s exciting to be working together with the career people. It’s nice to know there’s someone always here,” Rossi said.
Carlini, and almost everyone who spoke at the ground-breaking, thanked the County Commission, the Ranchos Board of Trustees and everyone at East Fork for working together to make the project possible.
“This will help bring the two organizations tighter together. It is an issue of co-dependence. Anyone who doubts that is what’s happening is encouraged to go to any of the fire activities that have happened in the last few days,” said County Manager Dan Holler. “We have one of the best volunteer staffs and that’s an indication of the training and equipment they have. We try to give them the best tools possible as we continue to grow and work together. It’s exciting to see just a piece of that today.”
The two acres the station will sit on is across the street from the current station on Mitch Drive, built in 1986. The Ranchos board gave the greenbelt land to the district. The station will be three times bigger, with offices, more room to park trucks out of the elements, and a large training/community meeting room.
Ranchos Chief Gary Powers said it feels great to know they will be able to help Ranchos residents better.
“It’s going to help the Ranchos and the response times will improve. Now we will have a 3-minute medical response time verses a 5-minute response time. It will just enhance the services and our training because we had such a small training room before. Now it will be more up-to-date and we can move into the 21st century,” Powers said.
Carlini said it is hard to estimate response times, but he said the paramedics will not have to travel through traffic in town in order to respond to the Ranchos and South County.
The Ranchos volunteers remembered one of their own, Bruce Nystrom, who worked toward getting the station as both as a volunteer and as a Ranchos board member, before his death in September.
His wife, M.J. Nystrom, was invited to be a part of the ground-breaking. She dug into the earth beside Nystrom’s fire turnouts.
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a man who was so instrumental in so many decisions,” Carlini said. “I know he is watching over us with a smile of approval.”
Terry Ferrara, a volunteer for five years, said he was encouraged to join by Nystrom and sat on the planning board with him.
“I love it. It’s a dream come true. I’m just elated now. The dream has become a reality. I can’t say enough about everyone from East Fork – paid and volunteer -they’re all excellent,” Ferrara said.