It’s been a long time coming, but Fire Station No. 5 is finally opening in Browns Valley.

This past week, firefighters began moving into the new building located at 3001 Browns Valley Rd. The station is expected to officially open at 9 a.m. Monday.

“I’m extremely excited about,” Capt. Joey Oliva said Thursday. Oliva, who lives in Browns Valley and raised his children in Browns Valley, said that he, like many residents, has been anxiously waiting for the station to open. As a young firefighter, he said, his goal was to promote to captain and eventually run the new station.

The city purchased the land at Browns Valley Road and Laurel Street for the fire station a decade ago. Part of the delay was due to the discovery of contaminated soil on the construction site when design development was just beginning in 2014. It took two years to resolve the soil issues and, in Oct. 2016, the city finally broke ground.

Fire Station No. 5 was expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Even with all the delays in construction, Oliva said that the “stars aligned.”

“It’s going to open and I’m going to be there,” he said with genuine excitement in his voice.

Until now, he said, the Browns Valley area has basically been divided in half when it comes to service – firefighters from Station 1 on Seminary Street responding to one half and firefighters from Station 3 on Trower responding to the other half. Historically, the area has seen the worst response times in the city.

It took firefighters and paramedics at least two minutes longer to respond to a call in Browns Valley than in other parts of Napa. And, depending on where in Browns Valley the call came from, it could take even longer – up to five minutes longer.

“Those couple minutes really make a huge difference,” Oliva said. Within those few minutes, he said, a house fire could double in size. And, when it comes to medical calls, the two minute difference could be the difference between life and death.

“The brain dies in like five minutes if you have no oxygen,” he said. Paramedics need to get there before then, and, he said, someone should have already begun performing CPR.

The Westwood Hills area will also see quicker response times and, in general, the city will have faster, more complete coverage, especially when fire personnel are called to multiple calls at the same time.

“I think the most exciting thing about having a station in Browns Valley is that our response time for the west side of Napa – for all incidents – is going to be cut in half,” Matt Gonsalves, a firefighter/paramedic who will be working at Station No. 5, said Friday.

Station No. 5 will be staffed 24/7, usually with a captain and two firefighter/paramedics.

The firefighter/paramedics that will be working in the new 5,145-square-foot building all say they’re excited.

“Oh, it’s a beauty,” said acting Capt. Dan Koch, who will also be at Station No. 5. “It’s going to be really nice to work out of.” Koch said he likes the nice, large kitchen and the fact that everything is new and clean.

“I’m super impressed with signage and the finish work,” Oliva said. Although admittedly biased, Oliva said that even if he weren’t going to be working at Station No. 5, he’s really happy about how it turned out.

The community seems excited about it, too, Oliva said. The other day when firefighters were moving in, he said, people waved at them and one vehicle honked as it drove by.

“The Station 4 opening didn’t have the feel that this station does,” he said. “It just seems like there’s a general excitement by the people.”

The station was designed to fit into the community – it is a Craftsman-style design with a very residential feel. It has exposed brick features combined with traditional siding and pops of red at the front door and the bay entrance/exit. There are plants along the fence and planted all around the fire station.

“It feels like a house,” Oliva said.

Inside, in addition to the basics, there is already a television as well as a few reclining chairs. There’s even a patio area outside with a built-in grill.

There are still some things that need to be done – a punch list, Oliva said, but the basics are there. He said he can’t wait to customize it by adding relevant artwork and photos. He’s already put a “thank you” poster up that came from second-graders at St. John the Baptist Catholic School.

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Maria Sestito is the former Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She now writes for the Register as a freelancer.