Twenty-seven Cary firefighters and two fire trucks have moved into the town’s newest fire station – a facility anticipated to reduce emergency response times in and around downtown.
Operations began at the new 13,395-square-foot, two-story facility, known as Fire Station 2, on Dec. 14. Located at 601 East Chatham St., the new station serves downtown and central Cary.
It replaces an outdated 41-year-old facility at 875 Southeast Maynard Road, which was not closed but reassigned as Fire Station 9, Assistant Fire Chief Loren Cone said.
When the original Fire Station 2 was built on Maynard Road in 1974, it was designed to accommodate one fire truck and four firefighters, but has since had to accommodate two trucks and 27 firefighters because of population increases in its service area. The station’s service area now has a population of more than 14,000 people with nearly 4,000 commercial and multifamily properties, which is more than any other service area in Cary.
The town seeks to have the first fire truck arrive at the scene of an emergency within five minutes at 90 percent of the time, officials said. But prior to the completion of the new station, emergency units from the Maynard Road location struggled to meet this objective in the northern and southern parts of the service area.
“This building will help us get to that goal,” said Mayor Harold Weinbrecht at a Fire Station 2 dedication ceremony Friday.
The new location will help firefighters respond more quickly to emergencies in the northern portion of the service area, Cary Fire Chief Allan Cain said, but there will still be some gaps in coverage with faster response times in the southern parts, particularly areas to the south of U.S. 1 on Walnut Street.
“We are still providing an effective service there, but we continue to fall behind in meeting our response rate target,” he said.
The new facility will house a fire pumper, which is the engine that carries a hose, pumps and water, and a rescue company, which responds to rescue incidents and well as fires. The station also includes several features designed to reduce emergency response times, including two fire poles and bi-parting doors that open more quickly than traditional overhead doors, according to town staff.
Opening the Chatham Street fire station was also important since the former facility had reached a state of disrepair, according to town staff.
Cain said underground erosion caused by stormwater pipe breaching resulted in the building’s foundation to settle.
“That causes walls to separate, the footing to separate and the floor and the front ramp is deteriorating,” he said. “That was really the first catalyst for us to talk about replacing the fire station and then the further we looked at simply replacing the fire station, we knew that we had some service-level gaps both in town and further down Walnut Street.”
Town officials are working to add another station in the Walnut Street and U.S. 1 area in order to meet current and future service demands, particularly with projected redevelopment in the Crossroads area.
“Once the plan fully materializes, the gaps down Walnut Street will be covered by the future station,” Cain said. “Whenever the Walnut one is constructed, then the SE Maynard Road (one), the use of it as a fire station will go away.”
The project cost the town an estimated $8.1 million, including design and construction. Voters approved $6.45 million in funding for construction in the 2012 community investment bonds referendum.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: #KTrogdon