Fire Station 2 (Steckel and Main Streets) is officially open 24/7 after a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday. Left to right cutting the ceremonial ribbon are Councilmember John Procter, Councilmember Dr. Gabino Aguirre, Vice-Mayor Rick Cook, Fire Chief Paul Skeels, Captain Phillip Viramontes, Mayor Mary Ann Krause, Captain Dustin Lazenby, Councilmember Ray Luna, Assistant Fire Chief Rick Araiza, and Captain Milo Bustillos. Photo by Don Johnson

Fire Station 2 officially opened

March 02, 2005
Second engine company cutting response times
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThe banner on Fire Station 2 read “Grand Reopening SPFD Station 82 Three Firefighters Now on Duty 24-7” as elected officials, firefighters and supporters responded to the scene of the gala celebration welcoming the long-underutilized Main Street station into full service.The Saturday reopening of Station 2, also known as Station 82 per the county dispatch system, drew former Deputy Fire Chief Harold Carpenter, who retired from the SPFD after decades of paid-call volunteer service. “Am I pleased? Yes…I live just a few blocks from here,” and the added emergency service is welcomed as well as overdue, Carpenter noted. “And I know the firefighters are professionals. It’s about time they used this building for what is was intended for.”Station 2 is located just west of the Community Center, and although first opened in 1988 it had never been fully staffed until February 1.Instead of a scissors and red ribbon, Mayor Mary Ann Krause and Vice Mayor Rick Cook used red fire axes to cut the yellow caution tape stretched across the open bay door. City Councilmen Gabino Aguirre, Ray Luna (a retired City of Ventura firefighter and John Procter were also on hand for the festivities, as were City Clerk Josie Herrera, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and Police Chief Bob Gonzales.Krause noted that when she first moved to Santa Paula she did not realize that Fire Station 2 was open. “We had the facility, but not the full use of it; it does us very proud,” to have been able to staff the station fully, a common goal of the city, Krause noted.Cook said that firefighting is a long tradition in the city – the SPFD was founded in 1903 and was a paid-call volunteer operation until 1995 – and that the city deserves the rapid emergency service.“I’m proud to be a part of the council team to open this up,” noted Luna.The SPFD was able to “do so much for so little for so many years,” said Procter. “That you [firefighters] stuck with us shows your dedication to Santa Paula.”
Aguirre said he wanted to “Thank the other half of Santa Paula’s finest…we can count on you in our time of need.”The ceremony was interrupted by a medical emergency and Krause noted that the response was to Pamela Lane, an area now better served by west side Station 2.Fire Chief Paul Skeels said that when Station 2 first opened in 1988, there were no full-time firefighters but the building was utilized for engine storage, second team emergency responders and department meetings. “It’s been a long, long road” for the department, which hired its first full-time firefighters in 1995. Chief Skeels noted that the SPFD has experienced “a lot of ups and downs - all budgetary - and we had to figure out a way to make this work.”The council first bought off on the Chief’s plan to gradually provide full service from Station 2, and when the budget could not cover the costs they redirected funding to hire three captains. “The council had to be really creative,” as did staff, in crafting the funding sources to staff the positions.Subsequently, the station represents a return to an almost full paid-call volunteer status, although part-time firefighters are now reserves. The SPFD has 14 full-time and approximately 35 reserves, Chief Skeels said. Firefighters are modifying the station for 24-hour use, as well as sprucing up the interior and exterior: “It’s a work in progress” that was delayed by the storms, noted Chief Skeels.Chief Skeels introduced Assistant Chief Rick Araiza and Station 2 Captains Milos Bustillos, Dustin Lazenby – a 4th generation SPFD, and Phillip Viramontes, as well as Carpenter, “the guy who taught me all I know….”After the ceremony, SPFD Captain Kevin Fildes noted that the addition of Station 2 and “knowing that that second engine is right behind us has reduced our stress levels…we’ve seen a dramatic decrease in response time,” especially to the western area of the city. “Right after this station opened there was a call for a heart attack, and the fact that there was such a quick response saved someone’s life,” noted Captain Fildes.

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