LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KTVU) - Lafayette city leaders and neighbors on Monday officially welcomed its new fire station which is set to be up and running by the end of September.
Officials say Station 16 on Los Arabis Drive just off of Upper Happy Valley, will enhance emergency response in fire-vulnerable areas.
"We've all seen the destructive force of wildland fires. Having this resource staffed within the hills of Lafayette will allow us to get to fires when they are small and keep them small," said Contra Costa County Fire District Chief Lewis Broschard.
It was one of seven fire stations that Contra Costa County with much controversy in 2012 because of budget cuts. But, after a complete renovation, it's about to rejoin the neighborhood.
"Having Station 16 staffed right now at this time of year is critically important for the protection of the community," said Broschard.
The next closest fire station is over two miles away. Medical emergencies and fire calls took an additional five minutes on average to get to the area and in an emergency seconds count.
"It is not very quick to get up into this area," the fire chief said. "That is one of the reasons it is important to get this station open to serve this hillside community."
Lafayette has numerous homes in wooded areas with narrow roads, similar to some areas in Northern California devasted by wildfires, including Sonoma and Napa counties.
Neighbors were relieved to see the fire station return. Among them was wife of Giants catcher Buster Posey, Kristen Posey.
"It is definitely a sigh of relief. I will feel a lot safer during fire season coming up," she said.