Orange County Emergency Services and Orange Rural Fire Department will celebrate the opening of the Waterstone Fire and EMS Station on Sunday, June 4, from 1-3 p.m.
The new facility will house one fire engine and one medical responder vehicle (Orange Rural Station 4) and one advanced life support ambulance (Orange County EMS Station 1). The public is invited to tour the facility.
The total budget of the project was $7.4 million. Orange Rural provided $4 million, with about $108,000 from the Town of Hillsborough. Orange County provided the remaining $3.4 million. The Fire Department and county divided equally the cost of design, survey, insurance and site work. Building costs were split based on how much space each side will utilize, with Orange Rural paying 58%.
The Town of Hillsborough provided the land for the station through a land swap with the Fire Department, trading 2 acres in the Waterstone development for land used as fire station parking next to the downtown station on South Churton Street. The town owns the downtown fire station and leases it to Orange Rural, which it contracts with for fire service.
The new facility in Waterstone can house up to 12 fire personnel and up to six EMS personnel. Orange County Emergency Services plans to start with one advanced life support ambulance staffed with two personnel.
“This station was designed with direct input of a joint team of fire and EMS response personnel,” said Orange County Emergency Services Director Kirby Saunders. “Many of the incorporated features and comforts were designed to optimize the health and well-being of our most valuable resource, our people.”
The facility is equipped with LED lighting and water-saving appliances. The apparatus bay is designed as a drive-thru bay to allow safer and more efficient entrances and exits.
Unique features include training props incorporated into the structure of the building on the fire side, such as rappelling points, confined space simulation, a sprinkler prop, and areas to practice rope rescues. Fire Chief Jeff Cabe said the training facilities were the brainchild of Jeff Holden, an Orange Rural firefighter who died in the line of duty in 2018.
“His ideas and vision resulted in the training props,” Cabe said. “Prior to his passing, Jeff was our training and special operations chief and managed all of our fire and EMS training.”
Cabe said the fire station will include a small memorial for Holden. The EMS portion of the station will also include a memorial wall dedicated to EMS providers who have been killed or disabled in the line of duty.
The facility meets design standards for critical facilities and is equipped with an emergency generator to ensure uninterrupted service delivery. Shared spaces include an exercise room, the bay area, and an outdoor patio equipped with a gas grill. Each side has a fully equipped kitchen, day room and decontamination areas. The EMS portion will contain a 24/7 publicly accessible lobby, restroom and automatic external defibrillator.
Both Orange Rural and the county integrated the latest in alerting technology to reduce cardiac impacts on responders from sudden loud noises and bright lights. The technology ramps up low-level lighting and emits tones that more gradually wake the responders.
The station’s exterior features low-maintenance plants, shrubs, and hardscapes. The partners will share maintenance of the facility and grounds that are shared spaces.
The new station will enhance the availability of public safety resources to the growing Hillsborough community and beyond.