Aurora firefighters will hold a two-day celebration starting Friday to mark the opening of the city's new $4 million station.
The city broke ground last year on the facility just west of the existing 1950s-era station in a neighborhood across from Abraham Lincoln Park. Firefighters made the move and began handling 911 calls from station No. 7 on Monday.
"We hope to get 75-plus years out of the new station, so it will serve this neighborhood for a long time," said Donald Davids, assistant chief of support services.
Space constraints were a major shortcoming of the 60-year-old station that wasn't designed for the larger fire apparatus of modern firefighting. Crews felt the squeeze in the building that had room to house just one fire engine.
"It was a very narrow fit," Davids said of the bay floor.
Privacy also was an issue in a facility with one community-use bathroom and a 10-bed dormitory without any dividing walls, Davids said.
By contrast, the new station has four individual bathrooms, living quarters arranged in cubicles, a workshop and a fitness area. A company officer, two paramedics and two firefighters staff the roughly 10,500-square-foot station in 24-hour shifts.
Last summer, the city approved adding an ambulance to the station No. 7 fleet. But until the three-bay station opened, Medic 7 was running out of the department's central station downtown to cover emergencies in the neighborhood on the city's West Side.
The city's seventh advanced life-support ambulance has responded to more than 1,200 calls since it was put into service last July, officials say.
Firefighters will continue moving equipment into the new station over the next several days. Officials will gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Friday at 824 Kenilworth Place. They also will give tours of the building until 1 p.m. Guests are encouraged to RSVP by calling (630) 256-4008 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then on Saturday, the department will host a public open house from 1 to 4 p.m.
Architects from Dewberry designed the building with natural tones and materials that tie into the station's surroundings in the neighborhood east of Aurora University.
"We tried to come up with a design that would fit in well with the parklike setting," Davids said.
The city plans to open bids for the demolition of the old station at the end of the month, Davids said.
The site of the existing building will become the parking lot for the new station. Officials hope to tear down the shuttered station before asphalt plants open at the start of April.