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Tigard fire station reopens downtown

Seismic upgrades and new women's accomodations kept station closed since June.


TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Station 51 is one of the busiest fire stations in Tigard, responding to calls all over TVF&R's 210-square-mile service district, and beyond.Downtown Tigard’s fire station is up and running after being closed for nearly a year.

Last summer, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue closed Station 51 on Southwest Burnham Street in order to complete a series of seismic upgrades and install accommodations for female firefighters.

The station, located at 8935 S.W. Burnham St., was one of the busiest in the city. The station housed TVF&R’s heavy rescue unit and a ladder truck, which made up TVF&R’s tactical rescue team. The team was responsible for responding to crashes along Highway 99W, as well as challenging calls all over the fire district, including high-angle rescues, complicated multi-vehicle crashes, entrapments and rescues from confined spaces.

The heavy rescue rig also responds to calls outside of TVF&R’s service area when neighboring districts such as Lake Oswego and Hillsboro need assistance. Since June, the crews have been operating out of Station 50 on Southwest Walnut Street and Station 53 in Progress.

TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - The station closed last June while crews made seismic upgrades and installed new sleeping and restroom facilities for female firefighters. The station's heavy rescue unit and ladder truck were moved to other Tigard-area stations.Crews moved back to the downtown Tigard station on Monday, said Stefan Myers, TVF&R spokesman.

“We’re really excited to be back at Station 51,” said the station’s captain, Craig Lyon. “Our technical rescue team is reunited, and we’re pleased to have more space to store the specialized equipment we use for trench rescues, major motor vehicle crashes, and other complex incidents. The seismic upgrades also improve our ability to respond during an earthquake.”

From the outside, the fire station looks much the same, but Myers said that the station is now less likely to be damaged during an earthquake. Construction crews also installed an interior sprinkler system, expanded the fire house’s bunk room where firefighters sleep, and installed new locker room and bunk facilities for female firefighters. Before, women working in the station had to use a converted public restroom.

“It now has the versatility to service anyone that might be working out of there,” Myers said.

The station was originally planned to re-open in January, but Myers said that construction was extended to March in order to finish up work.

“We wanted to make sure the upgrades were complete and finish the station so that it met our specifications,” he said.

Work isn’t quite finished. Myers said that minor exterior building and landscaping work will wrap up over the next few weeks.

Construction cost about $1.4 million, paid for through the agency’s $77.5 million bond approved by voters in 2006.

Next stop, Cooper Mountain

TVF&R - Construction crews install new roofing at TVF&R Station 51, in downtown Tigard. The station re-opened this week after nine months of remodeling and seismic upgrades.Moving a fire crew a few minutes farther away from the scene of a crash or fire could mean the difference between life and death. Myers said that a lot of planning had to go into how the agency would respond to calls from the downtown area while the station was closed.

During construction, a medical unit from the Progress station was moved to TVF&R’s headquarters on Southwest Dartmouth Street near 72nd Avenue so that it could respond to Progress and Tigard-area calls.

“That allowed us to cover that area and be successful,” Myers said.

Myers said that data is still being evaluated on response times during the construction, but said anecdotally that the agency did not notice a great increase in response times from firefighters or paramedics during the construction.

Myers said that the agency is planning seismic upgrades at several other fire stations across the district, but said that Station 51 will likely be the only Tigard-area station affected. TVF&R’s fire district includes Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood and West Linn.

“We want to reach standards so that if we were hit with seismic activity they would be available to respond to calls,” Myers said. “We are starting to look at Station 69 on Cooper Mountain, Station 62 (in Aloha) and Station 64 (in Rock Creek). It’s something we are looking at for all our older stations.”

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