EDINBURG — City leaders here celebrated the opening of Fire Station No. 5 last week, and it’s already reducing response times in the north side of town by at least five minutes.

The $2.3 million project had been in the works for at least five years, but problems with a contractor and a subsequent change in location led to delays, Edinburg Fire Chef Shawn Snider said.

The facility was originally meant to be a stand-alone fire station next to the Edinburg Solid Waste Management and Regional Disposal Facility, but issues with Candela Construction LLC led to delays.

Those delays, however, allowed city officials to take a closer look at land the city had recently acquired near the Texas Department of Public Safety Mega Center, which is located on Davis Road next to Interstate Highway 2.

The new location appeared more convenient and allowed city leaders to rethink the facility’s purpose. Today, it’s not only a fire station, but also a police substation that houses four K-9 units, and serves as a hub for an ambulance.

“So that is a blessing,” Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. “We ran into a closed door, but we had two doors open.”

Edinburg has been growing at a very fast pace and the new facility will only help that development continue, Snider said.

“When I started working here, the city’s population was 28,000. The city’s population now is over 100,000, and the growth is not stopping,” the fire chief said. “So we need to be able to meet that expectation with our response, and this fire station here brings that to the table.”

Edinburg began staffing the facility Sept. 18, and there have already been three structure fires.

“We’ve already had three homes that have burnt, and I’ve been looking at the response times just to see, OK, what did this do for us, and it’s night and day,” Snider said. “It’s cutting off, at minimum, at least five minutes off the response time in some of these far stretches that we’re going.”

The station will cover much of the northern portion of the city and county, going as far as 30 miles north to the county line, east to Hargill, and west to McCook.

“By building this station in this location, we get quicker response to any of our accidents or any emergencies in our rural area,” said Luis Flores, chairman of the Hidalgo County Emergency Service District No. 3. “This in turn will save lives.”

The district also contributed financially to the project.

“They pitched in $500,000 for this project,” Molina said. “So we would not have been able to get this done without the board’s support.”

Edinburg residents living within a 5-mile radius of the station can also expect to see some more advantages.

“Because of the proximity to the station, residents living within a 5-mile radius of this vicinity, can qualify for a credit on their homeowner or business insurance that will reduce their insurance payments,” the mayor added.