McALLEN — McAllen’s newest fire station on Thursday officially welcomed its latest engine company into the fleet, with a new truck that’s equipped with 500 gallons of water and 1,500 feet of firehose. The truck is valued at $650,000.
Honoring the long-held tradition in the fire service to “push back,” a new fire apparatus when it’s received and placed in service, a custom that dates back to a time when horses pulled fire wagons, Fire Station No. 2 held a small ceremony of its own Thursday. The station has been in operation for 50 years but was recently torn down and rebuilt into a new red and white building located near the corner of Harvey Avenue and Main Street.
The new building was paid for through a $1.4 million bond voted on by city commissioners, but the final approval took some maneuvering. There was consensus that a new Fire Station No. 2 was needed. But when city commissioners in late 2017 discussed the prospect of a new fire station there, some representatives from the neighboring community garden were concerned about the new station wiping out their garden.
The garden’s president, John Goolsby, testified to commissioners that for more than a decade, dozens of families and people from the community planted, tended to and harvested 54 different types of vegetables.
After city staff heard concerns from garden representatives, City Manager Roel “Roy” Rodriguez detailed how the city adjusted construction of the new station.
“Another issue that was brought up was the couple of large, beautiful trees that we were going to take out. We’ve realigned the entrance from Harvey in order for that not to happen,” Rodriguez said at a December 2017 commission meeting. “In order to take less of the green space, we’ve reduced the entry of that driveway from some 24 feet to 14. There was a concern from one of the neighbors about the height of the building, and how much it would be seen from their backyard; we’re reducing that elevation by 8 feet.
“We are pushing the building to the north several feet in order to accommodate as much of the garden as possible. We’re pushing the building to the west as much as possible in order to accommodate the garden. We’re going to issue a license agreement so that we can park on our own right of way in order to accommodate the garden.”
On Thursday, an American flag was raised and the fire station formally opened.