San Jose Celebrates Opening of Fire Station

The speeches marking the grand opening of a state-of-the-art fire station in East San Jose on Saturday touched on common themes about its central location and the goals of reducing response times and galvanizing residents with a new community hub.

And, almost as if on cue, with the fanfare of Station 21’s re-dedication in full swing, companies from the San Jose Fire Department hustled to a morning two-alarm attic fire about a mile away.

While those firefighters went to work, more than 200 people packed the three-engine bay of the new facility on South White Road next to Lake Cunningham Park and celebrated a long-overdue upgrade. The previous station, on Mt. Pleasant Road in the east foothills, was a single-family home converted in 1958 and meant to be a “temporary” location.

The 8,750-square-foot building, funded in large part by a 2002 bond package, actually opened in December to fire personnel. Fire and city officials say it’s designed to grow by 3,000 square feet if it ever has to be expanded.

Besides a clean, modern aesthetic that incorporates a traditional brick façade — think Mayberry R.F.D. meets Apple Store — the new station was designed with green eyes. It has skylights that hold down heating costs and an in-house treatment system to clean water before it goes into the city’s storm drains.

It’s also the first fire station in the city to have an elevator.

In a city that in recent years has been plagued by staffing cuts and even some station closures, the expansion was a welcome one to fire administrators.

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