From their new base halfway between the north and south airfields at Los Angeles International Airport, firefighters at Station 80 could be called to take on a wide range of aircraft emergencies on the ground that might come their way.
The nearly 28,000-square foot fire station is designed to allow fire personnel to quickly respond to the scene of an aircraft crash, fuel spill, bomb threat, or hijacking, as well as a hazardous materials or evacuation incident. The station’s new location at the airport enables a fire engine to reach the midpoint of the furthest runway within three minutes, as per regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), city and airport officials note.
“We will be prepared and will be able to respond – we hope we never have to, but we will be able to go to an incident from this facility within three minutes; you can’t do better than that,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the airport area.
Having replaced a 25-year-old structure, the new Los Angeles Fire Station 80 was officially dedicated Nov. 22 by city and airport officials, who touted its advancements in ensuring safety at the world’s seventh busiest airport.
“Keeping LAX on the cutting edge of safety and security is my priority, and this new state-of-the-art facility is making LAX safer, improving our readiness for any type of emergency,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said.
Fire Station 80 was first established in 1941 when it operated out of a five-room bungalow at what was then Mines Field. The station has since relocated to two other sites, most recently to a building in the center of the airport, west of the main terminal complex in 1985.
But airport officials said that facility was no longer able to accommodate the size of modern firefighting equipment and the volume of current operations with LAX’s planned modernization projects, creating the need for a larger, more advanced fire station.
“This airport has changed a lot over the past years and it was time to replace the old fire station with a new structure to better accommodate the size and volume of today’s emergency response equipment,” FAA Regional Administrator William Withycombe said at the dedication ceremony. “This new state-of-the-art fire station and the dedicated professionals that are going to be manning it will ensure the safety of all travelers that come and go through this major airport.”
Officials touted how the 13-month construction project, which created nearly 200 jobs, was completed under budget. The $13.5-million fire station, which opened for service Nov. 5, was partially supported by a $10.8-million FAA grant and funded through stimulus money of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“This fire station has a tradition of service and innovation, and this new facility makes us all very proud,” Villaraigosa said.
City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, chair of the council’s Trade, Commerce and Tourism Committee, added, “As we move into the holiday seasonŠ we know LAX will be a safe airport for people to come in and out of and that’s a good thing.”
Pointing to Station 80’s enhancements, Capt. Randall Keyes said the new two-story station is double the size of the former 14,000-square foot facility, which could essentially fit inside the new apparatus floor. The station includes seven bays to house the station’s rescue and firefighting vehicles, as well as other emergency response equipment, and maintain them on site.
A total of 42 fire personnel members are stationed out of the building, with 14 staff working per 24-hour shift. Among the features are sleeping quarters, administrative and physical training areas, a kitchen and an observation deck looking out onto the airfields.
Keyes noted the structure is designed to last for at least 50 years, taking the fire department “well into the century.” The firefighters working out of Station 80 are proud to be able to serve from their new home, said Keyes, who has served with the station for five years and was involved in the project for three years.
“I was here at the very beginning, and seeing the final project, for me, it’s quite an accomplishment,” Keyes said.
LAFD Chief Millage Peaks called the Station 80 firefighters “some of the best aircraft rescue firefighters in the nation who now have one of the best, state-of-the-art fire stations anywhere in the world” to serve the various safety needs of LAX.
“We’re going to do the best job we can to make this airport safe,” Peaks said.