Lexington firefighters mark opening of new station with tradition
Lexington officially opened its first new fire station in more than a decade Tuesday.
The 15,338-square foot, two-story station on Magnolia Springs Boulevard will help the fire department improve response times to the rapidly growing Citation Boulevard area that includes Masterson Station, believed to be the state’s largest neighborhood.
“This will serve a 24-mile area,” said Lexington Fire Chief Kristin Chilton at Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. “It will serve 452 businesses and at least 9,000 residential units.”
Fire station 24 is the first new station built since 2006 when Fire Station 22 was built in Veterans Park. But it’s been in the works for nearly a decade as the city’s growth demanded an additional fire station on the northwest side of Lexington.
“We have been waiting for this for a long time,” said Josh McCurn, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilman whose district includes the Masterson Station area. McCurn said additional single-family homes and apartment units — including a large development off of Lucille Drive — are expected to come online soon. “This is the most rapidly-growing area in the city.”
The new station is in the middle of a neighborhood, unlike other fire stations that are on major roads. Next to it is an apartment complex currently under construction. On the other side are single-family homes. Across the street is Magnolia Springs, an assisted living facility.
Mayor Linda Gorton said spending money on the new fire station, hiring additional fire fighters and purchasing newer, better equipment is worth the investment. The building cost approximately $4.63 million. In addition, the city has added more than 35 fire fighters over the past several years to help staff the new fire station and address an increase in ambulance runs.
“Improving public safety is the most important responsibility we have as a city,” Gorton said. “Our firefighters need the best tools available to do their jobs and in this case that includes a new fire station that is closer to new neighborhoods.”
Lexington fire department’s response times are one of the best in the country inside the urban service area, according to an independent analysis.
In 2017, the Insurance Service Organization, which measures the effectiveness of fire protection, moved Lexington to Class 1, the top category. Only 241 of 46,200 rated fire departments receive that designation. Lexington had been a Class 2 city for more than a decade.
The station started answering calls two weeks ago.
On Aug. 5, crews pushed a new tanker truck into the station, a tradition whenever a new station opens that dates back to the last century. When fire carriages were powered by horses, firefighters had to push the carriages back into the station.
Chilton said Tanker 1 is the first 3,000 gallon operational tanker vehicle in the fire station’s fleet. The tanker truck can be used where hydrants are sparse. Currently, the department has to send several of its smaller trucks to larger fires to provide enough water in hydrant-deficient areas. Insufficient water has been an issue in the past with some fires that start in rural areas.
The station also has other firsts.
Fire Station 24 is the first two-story station built since 1929. It houses a fire hose tower, rescue platform and sprinkler system that can be used for training. No other fire station has those features, Chilton said. It also uses state-of-the-art technology for decontamination areas used when firefighters return from fires.
The station was built with the help of prison labor. Prisoners with Kentucky Correctional Industries, a labor program through the state prison system, built new furniture, cabinets and beds for the station. The fire department used Kentucky Correctional Industries to help build Fire Station 2, which opened in 2017. That building was a replacement fire station for an aging station on New Circle Road.
“Their quality and craftsmanship is second to none,” Chilton said.
Fire Station 24 has two fire trucks, including Tanker 1, but that may change as more residents and demand increases, she said.
“It was built to add more equipment as needed,” Chilton said.