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Public Safety

West Napa residents rejoice in new Browns Valley fire station

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Fire Station 5 Grand Opening

AJ Roche, 3, tries on his Junior Firefighter hat at the grand opening for Fire Station 5 in Browns Valley on Tuesday afternoon.

West Napa residents rejoiced Tuesday during the open house they have been waiting years for: the grand opening of Fire Station No. 5.

“We’ve been watching and waiting somewhat impatiently,” Kenzie Nicoll, a Browns Valley resident, admitted during the station’s opening celebration.

The City of Napa purchased the land at Browns Valley Road and Laurel Street for the fire station a decade ago, but construction was delayed for various reasons. Firefighters finally moved into the much-anticipated station in March.

“It took forever,” Nicoll’s wife, Lynn, said. As the project got closer to completion, she said she would get excited about it, thinking it would be opening soon.

“We’re happy to have this,” she said. “Between the earthquake and then the fires, it’s nice to have a fire station nearby.”

Fire Station 5 Grand Opening

Guests begin arriving for the official grand opening for Napa Fire Station 5 on Tuesday afternoon.

If there’s another earthquake, Station No. 5 will be “the place to be,” said Jack LaRochelle, director of Public Works.

The fire station is built on 60 concrete piles buried 50 or 60 feet deep.

But a lot of the appeal of the fire station is its appearance. The new 5,145-square-foot building with a Craftsman-style design was built to fit into the neighborhood.

It has a combination of exposed brick and traditional siding with 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. Firefighters even recently added a “rock garden.”

“It blends in perfectly with the neighborhood … (it’s) just like another house in Browns Valley,” Chief Steve Brassfield said before the ribbon cutting.

Fire Station 5 Grand Opening

Napa Fire Department Operations Chief Zach Curren, left, holds the ribbon as others prepare for the ceremonial cutting at Fire Station 5 in Browns Valley at the grand opening on Tuesday afternoon.

Alane Christensen, who lives off Redwood Road, came to the open house with her great nephew, Giovanni Masterpaul, 3, who was decked out in a firefighters costume.

Fire Station 5 Grand Opening

Napa Fire Chief Steve Brassfield welcomes guests to the grand opening of Napa Fire Station 5 in Browns Valley on Tuesday afternoon. Listening at right is Napa Mayor Jill Techel.

When Christensen told Giovanni about the open house, she said, it was all he could talk about.

“He loves this,” she said.

Not only does the fire station look “awesome,” Christensen said, but it will really help people in the neighborhood.

Prior to the opening of Station No. 5, response times in the Browns Valley/West Napa area were at least two minutes longer than in other parts of the city. Sometimes, it was five or more minutes longer – the worst response times in the city.

“I’m glad we have another station because we were kind of far away before,” said Norm Larsen, who lives just a few minutes away from the station. “You can’t have too many firefighters or police because when you need ‘em, you need ‘em.”

Fire Station 5 Grand Opening

The grand opening for Napa Fire Station 5 was held on Tuesday afternoon.

Larsen said that he’s been looking forward to the station’s opening since the plan to build it was announced. Since then, he’s been watching it get built bit by bit.

The lot at 3001 Browns Valley Road was first purchased by the city 10 years ago.

Fire Station 5 Grand Opening

Guests tour the kitchen of Napa Fire Station 5 at the grand opening on Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re not exactly fast – it takes a while,” Mayor Jill Techel said Tuesday.

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 October 2016, the city finally broke ground.

The project came in under budget, LaRochelle said. The city expected to pay 5,092,100. The project cost $4,933,491, he said.

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

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