LOS ANGELES MAYOR ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA speaks on the benefits of the new aircraft rescue and firefighting facility at LAX as Los Angeles Fire Chief Millage Peaks (right) looks on. (Photo courtesy of the mayor’s office)

Officials broke ground Thursday, November 12th on a new $13.5 million Los Angeles Fire Department station designed to improve emergency response at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was joined by representatives of local and federal elected officials, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) executives, and city fire and airport departments in breaking ground for the new replacement aircraft rescue and firefighting facility at LAX. The Fire Station No. 80 project received $10.8 million in federal stimulus funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“The new Fire Station 80 at LAX will improve our readiness for an emergency at the airport, clear the way for further airport

modernization, and provide jobs to help revive our local economy,” Villaraigosa said. “This aircraft rescue and firefighting facility will make LAX safer and better prepared to handle any type of emergency, as well as to accommodate bigger, cleaner, quieter, modern aircraft that keep pace with the changing world of aviation.”

The new fire station will replace the current 30-year-old structure and will be located midway between the north and

south airfield complexes, further west of the passenger terminal area than where the current station is located, airport officials note. The new facility will be double the size of the current one at approximately 27,500 square feet, including seven bays to house and maintain rescue vehicles and emergency response equipment.

Airport officials point out that the new station is designed to better accommodate the size, volume and nature of operations at LAX regarding new-generation aircraft, such as the Airbus A-380 and the Boeing B787. It will also provide living, administrative and training areas for 14 firefighters assigned to each 24-hour shift.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in fall 2010.

“We are creating jobs, reinventing our airport, and making LAX and the surrounding area a safer place,” City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said of the station. “This is an example of L.A.’s own economic stimulus package. We could use more projects like this across the country.”

Los Angeles Fire Chief Millage Peaks added, “The Los Angeles Fire Department has worked in collaboration with the Los Angeles World Airports staff in the planning and design of a great facility that will protect the airport for years to come.”

While the majority of construction costs is paid through stimulus funding, the remainder of the cost is funded by airport revenue bond proceeds. No funding is coming from the city’s general fund.

Airport officials estimate up to 200 jobs will be created during this project, including architects, engineers, inspectors, construction workers, building material fabricators, transport drivers and administrative support personnel.

By relocating the station, the current facility will be demolished to make way for the Crossfield Taxiway Project, which is well underway on other parts of the airfield, according to airport officials. Completion of the

new crossfield taxiways, which is part of the LAX modernization and scheduled for next summer, will allow construction to begin on new-generation aircraft gates on the west side of the Tom Bradley Terminal.