Construction of a new fire station in northwest Raleigh was first delayed by the recession, then by land logistics and then by bad weather.
But on Tuesday, city leaders gathered to celebrate the opening of Fire Station 29, which will serve the fast-growing Leesville Road area.
“This has been a long time in the making, and we couldn’t wait to get these doors open,” said Marchell Adams David, Raleigh’s assistant city manager.
Officials said they’ve known since at least 2008 that a new fire station was needed in the area.
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City staff budgeted $4 million for the station in 2009, but the recession delayed the project. Instead of paying for a new station, the city hoped to avoid layoffs within the fire department, said Raleigh Fire Chief John McGrath.
Another obstacle for the station was land. The city had to combine several plots of land along Leesville Road to create an ideal site.
“We wanted to build it right,” McGrath said. “It’s better to take your time in the beginning.”
Construction began in the winter of 2014. Crews were stalled by snow and ice storms early this year and then by a particularly wet transition into spring, said Assistant Fire Chief Kendall Hocutt.
Raleigh hired 30 new firefighters to work the station, which Hocutt said was much more “firefighter-friendly” than some of the city’s older stations.
Fire Station 29 has three large dorm areas, two captains’ rooms and three bays for fire trucks. Engine 29 and Ladder 9 will be permanently housed there.
Small changes should make firefighters’ shifts more comfortable, Hocutt said. The station has individual bathrooms instead of stalls. Soon, the sleeping quarters will be divided into smaller areas to give firefighters more privacy.
Since 2008, the area now served by the new station was served by stations near Brier Creek, Raleigh-Durham International Airport and the Raleigh-Durham border.
City Councilman John Odom estimated there were about 4,000 homes and businesses in the Leesville Road that were under-served.
The fire department aims to respond to 90 percent of calls within four minutes. That was tough to do in the Leesville Road area, McGrath said.
He said that while northwest Raleigh is now in good shape in terms of fire stations, other parts of the city need more stations, including northeast and east Raleigh.