New fire station for Fruita

Chief Frank Cavaliere, chief of the Lower Valley Fire Protection District, speaks at the site of the new fire station during a groundbreaking ceremony Monday afternoon at 168 N. Mesa St. in Fruita. The $2 million project will span 15,000 square feet and help meet increased demand in the area.

Monday night’s shovelfuls of dirt were largely symbolic, but today’s are the real deal — breaking ground for a new Lower Valley Fire Protection District building in Fruita.

The $2 million project, tentatively scheduled for completion by April, will see a 15,000-square-foot building rise behind the current, 7,000-square-foot building at 168 N. Mesa St. The expansion, said Lower Valley Fire Chief Frank Cavaliere, has been a long time coming.

“I started here nine years ago, and one of the things we identified at that time was that we needed more space,” he said.

Because of rapid growth at the west end of the Grand Valley in the past decade or more, the Lower Valley Fire District has been progressively busier, having to make do with resources that often don’t keep pace with demand. Call volume has increased by 8 to 10 percent each year over the past several years, Cavaliere said, with full-time and volunteer emergency responders getting close to 2,000 calls last year.

The district, which now has eight full-time and 23 volunteer responders, as well as three part-time staff, has begun 24-hour coverage, Cavaliere said. That includes 200 square miles for fire protection and about 400 square miles for ambulance services — an area that stretches to Cisco, Utah, in the west and 21 1/2 Road in the east, and from Colorado National Monument to the Garfield County line near Douglas Pass.

The new building, which is supplemented by a second building in Loma, will house equipment and provide a growing, 24-hour staff with a place to sleep, eat and train. It’s being paid for through the district’s capital fund and with a $750,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

Also, the more than 35 volunteers at Fruita Thrift voted to pledge $100,000 to the new station — $25,000 per year over the next four years, said Fruita Thrift president Ruth Farley.

“We try to give to local places, and this is something we thought was important,” Farley said.

Cavaliere said the new building, which will be two stories and made of brick, is projected to be done in about six months.


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