After work stoppages, labor disputes and funding difficulties, there was one last thing to contend with to complete the nearly $10-million new, state-of-the-art Fire Station 12 in north Long Beach– pushing into the garage a shiny, red fire engine that has the words “North Town” emblazoned on the side of it.
Hundreds of people gathered on Tuesday, Sept. 24 to celebrate the grand opening and dedication of the newly built fire station and Emergency Resource Center (ERC) located on a 1.2-acre site on the northwest corner of Artesia Boulevard and Orange Avenue.
“It did take a long time to build, but I think you can see today it was worth the wait,” said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, to the crowd of city officials, local residents, fire personnel and other stakeholders in attendance. “We should all celebrate what’s been done here.”
Funded entirely by the now abolished Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, the new 11,296-square-foot fire station and the 5,294 square-foot ERC include the latest technological advancements and energy-efficient design, along with three fire-engine bays, gender-neutral dorms for firefighters and paramedics and a 100-foot-tall communication tower for enhanced radio coverage throughout the city.
The facility replaces “blighted, underutilized” commercial tenants that were once considered “eyesores” at the intersection, said 9th District Councilmember Steven Neal. The new facility, which holds enough emergency supplies to support the northern half the city in a major disaster and offers a new venue to stage community meetings, continues the “Uptown renaissance,” he said.
“I’m proud to say we’ve come a long way, finally, to realize this beautiful, modern and much needed facility, which will help bring vitality to the neighborhood, synergy to the Atlantic [Avenue] corridor and a renewed sense of civic pride here in north Long Beach,” Neal said. “The fire station is one of the many infrastructure changes taking place in the north, and we’re very happy that this day has finally happened.”
The new Fire Station 12 also replaces its predecessor, an antiquated 3,800-square-foot facility that has served as the north Long Beach fire station since 1938 after it was converted from a 1929 home in a residential community at 6509 Gundry Ave.
Long Beach Fire Chief Mike DuRee said he has a “special connection” to the new fire station since his great-grandfather, Allen, who was fire chief at the time, put the old station into service exactly 75 years ago. “I got the better end of that deal,” DuRee said, adding that the new facility is “the most technically advanced fire station in the western United States and, certainly, the most comprehensive and capable fire station in the city of Long Beach.”
DuRee said the fact that the fire station at 1199 E. Artesia Blvd. is no longer located in a residential neighborhood and is now situated along a major thoroughfare will not only increase quality of life for residents surrounding the old facility but will allow firefighters and paramedics to respond to calls more quickly.
“This facility will provide a number of key enhancements for our mission in this area and citywide,” he said. “By moving out of a residential neighborhood and onto this main corridor, we expect to see faster response times and many calls for service that we respond to in this facility.”
Long Beach Fire Capt. Jackawa Jackson told the Signal Tribune that the new, state-of-the-art fire station will better serve the population that has increased in size since the old station was first built and allows the fire department to serve the community “more effectively and more efficiently” for decades to come.
“Just all the amenities that it has, all the technological advancements that it has and the fact that we are closer to main thoroughfares, it’s going to get us out of the doors and to the scene of an emergency faster,” he said. “So it’s a great day for Long Beach and a great day for ‘North Town.’”
Jackson added that about eight personnel are assigned to the fire station, working on three separate shifts for a fire-engine company, paramedic rescue and a basic-life-support ambulance.
Though the project officially broke ground in March 2010, construction fell behind schedule by nearly two years due to several complications, including the original contractor, Gonzales Construction, delaying work and eventually being terminated from the project. Challenges also came about out of the State’s dissolution of redevelopment. After the original contractor was terminated, Hayward Construction was brought on to complete the project earlier this year.
City officials noted that the fire station project is expected to receive, at minimum, a “gold” rating from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Some of the energy-efficient elements include: a rainwater-retention system; designated parking for low-emissions vehicles; natural light and operable windows for 90 percent of the fire station; solar power fueling 15 percent of the project’s energy usage; recycled materials used in construction; water-saving plumbing and irrigation systems; and landscape designed with native vegetation, among other features.