The new Palm Beach County Fire Station 22 in the city of Westlake in the Acreage is now fully operational, more than a year after a Contact 5 Investigation found the old station in a shopping plaza had slower response times than most in the county.
It was a homecoming Thursday for Palm Beach County firefighters who have been housed in a strip mall office on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.
"Their old location was next to a gas station and a bar," said Shawn Reid, who lives in Loxahatchee.
Reid has been anxious to see the grand opening of the fire station. He's the father of a 7-year-old girl and feels much more secure knowing this fire station is offering more resources in his community and surrounding areas.
In 2018, a Contact 5 Investigation found Fire Station 22's response times were 10 minutes slower than many other station in the county and only three firefighters were on a shift at one time.
"Response times were worse, specifically going to years back, but now it's going to be great. They’re in a great spot here," said Reid.
After Contact 5's report, the staff at the fire station doubled and there was a push from elected officials like County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay to speed up construction of that new fire station.
"Any time you can get trucks in and out of a station faster when a 911 call comes in, you're going to improve response times," said McKinlay about the new fire station.
The design for Fire Station 22 does just that.
"All the doors dump right into the apparatus bay. That's where the trucks are that's where the gear is," said Douglas McGlynn, Deputy Chief of Operations for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.
Deputy Chief McGlynn said the station has four bays for an advanced life support engine and rescue unit, a 3,000 gallon water tender to help with the lack of fire hydrants in some areas, a brush truck, and a high water vehicle.
"This fire station is specifically designed to pour right into the heart of this community," said Deputy Chief McGlynn.
The station will be staffed with six firefighters on shift around the clock. It's also the first station in the county built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.