What began in 1898 as a small barn with a donkey pulling a water hose cart has grown just a bit over the past decade. Now, with more than 25 employees, the Stephenville Fire Department has a new station to call home.
Designed to meet all the needs of the fire department now and in the future, the new Stephenville Fire Station #2 was officially opened Thursday with a "push-in" ceremony. Community members gathered at the new station, located at the intersection of Pecan Hill Drive and the Northwest Loop, to help welcome firefighters into their new home with plenty of celebration and tradition.
"It was once said that the fire service is 300 years of tradition unimpeded by progress," said Chief Jimmy Chew. "Here at the Stephenville Fire Department we embrace progress with tradition and we hope to blend the two today."
With the community's help, Chew and the rest of the department watched as the Heart of Texas Fire Department Honor Guard raised the colors above the new station. Then Chew (representing the present fire department) and retired Chief Jimmy Mooney (representing the past) uncoupled the fire hose in the bay doors. Chew said this was similar to the ribbon cutting at the opening of new businesses, but with a fire department twist.
Once the hose was uncoupled, Stephenville FD's newest member, Robert Schneider, guided the fire truck as community members and fire department personnel pushed the truck into its place in the bay of the new station. This long-standing tradition is representative of the joint efforts of the community and the department.
"As members of the Stephenville Fire Department we are very proud of this new station and we hope the community is proud of it as well," Chew said. "It is said that less than one percent of one percent of all the people on earth are extraordinary. I would personally like to thank the citizens of Stephenville for allowing me to be a small part of building this beautiful new home for this group of extraordinary heroes."
The new station, which the department moved into in November, will replace the current station two that is located at the corner of Harbin and Frey streets. It will house fire and EMS operations, administration, as well as training and prevention divisions. Chew said the new station was built in a more convenient location so that the department could better serve the community. He said the new station will allow the department to cover the entire city more efficiently.
"It was a long time in being built. We wanted a station that would grow with us, that would be in the right location of the city and we think we got it," Chew said. "We've got a beautiful, low maintenance station and we hope it's going to serve the city for many years to come."
City officials were on hand during the push-in and Mayor Kenny Weldon spoke to the crowd. He said not only was the event about the successes of the department and the city, but also about commitment. The city's commitment to the citizens and the department and the department's commitment to the community.
"We are appreciative to all the citizens of Stephenville for their help and support in all that we do, but especially with the fire department and all the growth that we experience here," said City Manager Mark Kaiser. "This is something we are very proud of and look forward to continuing to help all the citizens in the future."