Residents of southwestern Yuma have a new neighbor - one that is there to serve and help keep them safe.
That new neighbor is Yuma City Fire Station No. 6, located off 32nd Street just west of Avenue C. Firefighters moved in June 23 and already have been at work responding to emergency calls in the area, said Mike Erfert, public information officer for the Yuma Fire Department.
Yuma residents are encouraged to come by Yuma Fire Station No. 6 during a grand opening today (Thursday) to see the newest addition to the Yuma Fire Department. A flag raising and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 6 p.m. will be followed by an open house and public tours until 8 p.m. Sparky the Fire Dog will be on hand to visit with the kids, and refreshments will be provided.
Erfert said Wednesday he doesn't have an exact number of how many calls the station's crews have responded to so far. However, department-wide, an average of from 200 to 300 calls are handled each week.
The new fire station was located to serve the growing western part of the city, Erfert said. "It was important to have something out this way. When an area is looked at for placing a new station, the idea is to keep the response time to a minimum."
The station currently has one fire engine but has room for a second to meet the neighborhood's needs as the area develops, he said.
Three crews are assigned to the station, with each crew on duty for a 24-hour shift. Each crew includes a captain, an engineer and a firefighter. They're also trained as emergency medical technicians, with a significant number of them paramedics, Erfert said.
That's important, he said, because of the 11,000 calls YFD crews responded to last year, 80 percent were for medical emergencies.
He said people think of a fire truck as just dealing with fires, but "every engine has the same capabilities as a rescue truck. The only thing they can't do is transport."
Being the newest addition to the YFD, Fire Station No. 6 is a state-of-the-art facility with the latest in technology and equipment to help firefighters do their job better, Erfert said.
It's also designed to be a comfortable 24-hour home away from home for firefighters. It has six individual dorm rooms equipped with lockers for firefighters' clothing and personal items, a large kitchen, day room with comfy recliners and a well-equipped workout room.
Practicing what they preach about emergency preparedness, the fire station even has a stash of enough water and MREs (meals ready to eat) to last firefighters for 72 hours in case of a community emergency, Erfert said.
Last on a tour of the station, Erfert showed off the design of the building that gives it a "retro" look with such features as bay doors that swing out instead of opening overhead and vintage-looking exterior lights.
"It's a neighborhood station," he said. "As part of the neighborhood, we wanted it to be attractive. It's designed to be here a long time and serve the community."
View slideshow of new station
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6853.