CERRITOS — Building crews were hard at work Thursday putting the finishing touches on the first fire station in the city. They were trying to meet Saturday's deadline--a ceremony at 10 a.m. when city and county officials would dedicate the building and open it to the public.
The $1.2-million station will house a new ladder truck and paramedic unit, both additions to services the county already provides. The city, which financed the construction through the sale of bonds, will lease the station to the county at $1 a year for 30 years.
The city now receives firefighting service from a county station in Artesia, which houses a pumper truck, and county paramedic service from Lakewood. When the Cerritos station swings into operation in the next week, the county will close the 50-year-old Artesia facility.
The station will not be fully operational by Saturday, but all equipment and furnishings should be in, and county fire personnel--including up to 12 firefighters--are expected to move in the next week, said Kurt Swanson, director of human affairs for Cerritos.
On Pioneer Boulevard near South Street, the 10,200-square-foot station is, like many fire stations, a large, square, red brick building. This one, however, looks as if it came from 18th-Century Virginia. It is built in Early American style, with half-moon pane windows and a weather vane with an eagle on top.
Despite its Colonial exterior, the station reflects present-day concerns. By placing a large skylight and solar panels in the roof, the city hopes to cut down on lighting and water heating costs. The savings, Swanson said, probably will not be very great, although he did not have exact figures.
One of the advantages of the new station, said county Assistant Fire Chief Morris Gregory, is that it is closer to the Los Cerritos Center shopping mall and the heart of the business district, "so it will reduce the response time for the truck company and the rescue squad."
The county Fire Department also will move its battalion headquarters for the Cerritos area from Lakewood to the new station. It also will move its fire and building inspection units, which supervise all cities from Huntington Park to the Orange County line, from Bellflower to the Cerritos station.