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Murray Journal

Ground broken for new fire station

Nov 21, 2018 03:44PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray Fire Department Chief Jon Harris speaks at Murray Fire Station groundbreaking. (Photo/Rae Delliskave)

By Shaun Delliskave|[email protected]

In what is to be the first of many new developments in downtown Murray, the city broke ground for a new fire station on Oct. 16. Station 81 will move to the corner of 4800 South and Box Elder Street, literally a stone’s throw away from the current station.

The move comes as part of the city’s plan to extend Hanauer Street though downtown, thus putting the current fire station’s property in the middle of the planned roadway. Also, the Murray Fire Department is experiencing growing pains that require its oldest station to be significantly updated.

According to Jon Harris, chief of Murray Fire Department, “Currently, we have a population of almost 50,000 and approximately 7,000 emergency response calls (per year).” As Murray’s population balloons during the day with workers showing up for jobs and thousands of commuters traversing I-15 and I-215, Murray Fire Department must be able to respond to emergencies with this massive daily influx of people.

“Utah, right now, is one of the fastest growing states, with a growth rate of over two percent. At that rate, our population could double within the next 50 years. Therefore, the new facility should serve the needs of this community for that same time frame,” Harris said.

A significant improvement with the new facility is the ability to run several different companies out of the same building. Murray Fire Department will be able to run a fire engine, two ambulances, and a battalion chief all out of this station. The station will also be set up to send alert tones to wake up only the personnel who need to respond.

“By having several companies respond out of the same station, it will reduce the length of time the station is unoccupied. For example, currently, if there is one medical call, the crew responds and the station is left vacant. If a second call comes in while they are gone, the call is automatically directed to a station farther away, which ultimately results in a delayed response time. By having two or more crews respond out of the same station, we can ensure an improved response time,” Harris noted.

Additionally, this station will have an onsite training ground that will keep Murray Fire crews in their response area during training. “Finding the time and an area to train has always been an issue. The key is to have a location in Murray where our crews can train while still being able to respond on calls,” remarked Harris.  

The fire station will be built with a higher price tag than originally planned, as steel and labor costs have skyrocketed since the original estimate. City planners had estimated the station would cost $5.5 million, but bids came in approximately $833,000 over the budgeted amount—just for construction. The contract was ultimately awarded to Paulsen Construction.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, many noted in the architect renderings that the fire engines depicted were traditionally red, instead of Murray’s yellow painted trucks. 

The history of the yellow fire engines goes back to Chief Art Caldwell. In 1970, officials from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) traveled around the United Sates with a yellow fire engine. They parked their yellow fire engine next to the then-red Murray fire engine on State Street. When viewed from a distance, the yellow engine was substantially more visible. Chief Caldwell made the decision to go with yellow, and in 1971 he ordered the first yellow vehicle. 

After the groundbreaking, Harris noted, “We are very fortunate to have the support of our Mayor and City Council with the construction of this fire station. They have worked diligently to ensure this station is well equipped and functional. The personal safety of the firefighters is of paramount importance.”