Former Los Angeles City Fire Department (LAFD) captain Chuck Doyle still remembers when the original city Fire Station 5 first opened in Westchester more than half a century ago.
The Westchester community, home of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), was very small back then and the airport was practically “nothing,” Doyle recalls.
The now 83-year-old Doyle had been a firefighter for only two years when Fire Station 5 first opened its doors at 6621 Manchester Ave. on August 2nd, 1950.
Doyle, who retired from the fire department in 1978, was part of the first staff of firefighters at Fire Station 5, where he served for seven years.
But the Fire Station 5 he knew has since closed to make way for a much larger facility at 8900 Emerson Ave., Westchester.
The new $9.3 million Fire Station 5 serves the communities of Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Del Rey, LAX and Loyola Village. It is nearly two and a half times the size of the original station, which was built at a cost of $109,000.
The new 15,250-square-foot station, which was paid for by Proposition F funds, includes a 6,000-square-foot apparatus storage building and a 2,500-square-foot multipurpose room on a two-acre site.
Although the upgraded facility first opened for service April 13th, a grand opening ceremony was held at the station Saturday, June 24th.
Several civic and community leaders, including City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and LAFD Fire Chief William Bamattre, attended the public dedication ceremony.
Doyle also paid a visit to see how the city’s newest fire station turned out and said it was “unbelievable to see that much advancement” from the original Station 5.
“I come back now and I’m so amazed at the technical advancements,” said Doyle, who lives in San Clemente.
“It shows that the fire department is keeping up very well with the advancements in technology.”
When Doyle began serving at the original Station 5, he said there were only seven firefighters for each shift and they performed all of the jobs. There was only one large fire truck.
The original Station 5 was the only fire station that served all of Westchester back then, he said.
“We were all alone out there,” Doyle said.
But over the years, the original Station 5’s physical space, as well as its electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems became unable to support a modern and diverse workforce, fire department officials said.
Fire station personnel working inside the old building experienced “a daily struggle to effectively respond to the growing needs” of the community and a new regional fire station was needed, officials said.
The new station was constructed at a different site because the property on Manchester Avenue was too small to support a regional modern fire station, officials said.
Each shift at the new station has a staff of 15, including a task force, paramedic ambulance unit, battalion command team and an EMS (emergency medical service) battalion captain.
The station has a combined average of nearly 21 emergency responses every day.
The personnel will also be able to host community functions and training events in the new station’s community room, which will allow firefighters to have an “even closer and more productive relationship” with those they serve, fire department officials said.
“I think the station is well equipped to take care of the district,” Doyle said.