The station features just two paramedics in Raleigh Hills area.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Capt. Patrick Fale (right) and firefighter paramedic Will Coker will help keep Raleigh Hills and West Slope neighborhoods safe from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue's new Station 70. It opens Oct. 1.Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue’s new Station 70, serving Raleigh Hills and West Slope, is like no other across the agency’s large territory.

And perhaps, like no other fire station anywhere.

The compact station — a fifth the size of the typical TVF&R firehouse — is built into a strip mall location at 8299 S.W. Beaverton Hillsdale Highway.

Its two-person crew may respond to its first call on Thursday — the date of its official opening — and they are expected to be the first responders on roughly 1,300 calls a year. Their “first due” coverage area has nearly 6,000 addresses.

Instead of a 24-7 station equipped with a full crew and a fleet of vehicles ranging up to large engines, Station 70 is staffed by a two-person medic crew whose mission is to quickly reach people experiencing medical emergencies and other calls from the neighborhood.

“We … want to be as fast and effective in this area as we could be,” said Capt. Patrick Fale, who will staff the station with fellow firefighter and paramedic Will Coker.

The station will be open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, time periods when a close analysis of five years of data showed call volumes are at their peak.

It’s also a period when traffic can be heavy, making for longer responses by crews at larger stations on Scholls Ferry Road in Progress and off Canyon Road near Highway 217, more distant stations that previously responded to most calls in the area. A Portland Fire Bureau station to the east also has taken numerous calls in the area through a mutual aid agreement.

Fale and Coker plan to become part of the fabric of the community, getting to know its residents, business people, school officials and law enforcement officers.

“We really want to bring that small-town feel, even though we’re a large organization,” Fale said.

For Coker, it’s especially personal. He also lives in the neighborhood.

Operating from the new base, medics can reach some calls precious seconds or minutes before the next responders, which can make the difference life or death in critical emergencies.

“It makes total sense to me, not only as a firefighter but as a resident,” Coker said. “It changes outcomes, potentially.”

TVF&R spokeswoman Alisa Cour said Station 70 is a new model TVF&R created to meet the needs of Raleigh Hills and West Slope without the expense and over-duplication of services its larger stations already bring to the area east of Beaverton. They will consider similar medic stations if needed in other neighborhoods across the district.

“We can’t put a fire station in every corner,” Division Chief Deric Weiss said. “We can put the right resource at the right place at the right time.”

TVF&R officials did not know of any similar stations that other agencies have built, so they devised their own plan from scratch to meet their particular needs in an area with a high volume of medical calls.

“We’re not restricted by tradition,” Fale said.

Station 70 cost $1.83 million, most of which turned the existing shell of the 1950-square-foot building into a working station, including the addition of a new type of horizontal bay doors that open more quickly than the traditional variety.

By comparison, Station 65 to the northwest is 9,600 square feet and was built for just under $4.2 million. It opened in 2012.

In the district, about 85 percent of calls are medical — illness, chest pain, difficulty breathing and similar emergencies — that are best handled by crews of one or two medics in smaller vehicles. That is particularly true in the neighborhoods near Station 70, which have aging populations and several residential facilities for the elderly.

Larger trucks and crews from neighboring stations will still respond to the area for fires and other large emergencies, but Fale and Coker said they often will arrive at those calls even faster, ready to provide life-saving aid.

TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Division Chief Deric Weiss discusses the decision to build a smaller-scale station in Raleigh Hills, where a two-person crew will be able to respond to medical emergencies and other calls more quickly.

By Eric Apalategui
Beaverton Reporter
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