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Developer Donates $3.3 Million to Design, Build Calif. Fire Station

Oct. 11--APPLE VALLEY -- It is not uncommon for fire departments to receive generous donations from the communities they service.

It is uncommon to get donations as large as the one the residents of Apple Valley, Calif., will soon benefit from.

Pulte Homes/Del Webb contributed $3.3 million to build, design and oversee the creation of the Apple Valley Solera Station No. 337, which will begin serving the Jess Ranch area.

When a developer comes in, they usually give a piece of land, said Apple Valley Fire District Division Chief Art needed in the rapidly growing area.

Seven years ago, Pulte Homes and the fire department partnered to begin planning the long-awaited station.

We asked the questions, they answered, said Phil Williams, the Pulte Homes director of special projects. They told us what they wanted and needed.

Bishop said the Oct. 13 opening day was planned because it is the anniversary of the great Chicago fire, and also National Fire Services Recognition Day.

The 7,113-square-foot station in the Mariposa Lodge complex on Jess Ranch Parkway includes a private studio apartment for ambulance paramedics that is equipped with solar tube lighting and state-of-the-art appliances. There were efforts to make the station as green as possible, Bishop said.

There is a workout room and a common area with a kitchen and recliners facing a 60-inch flat-screen TV. Along the hallway are pictures of Jess Ranch dating back to the early turkey farming days.

Local contractors were used for almost all the work, Bishop said.

They said, This is the fire station that s going to serve me and my family, and they loved being a part of it, Bishop said.

The station is being used for testing for new firefighters, and starting in January it will house two paramedic firefighters and two private ambulance firefighters.

Pulte bought a mini pumper, which is a small fire engine that can fit down narrow streets, and it will be staffed with paramedic firefighters, Bishop said. The station also has a reserve fire engine.

There is a bidding war among firefighters for the Solera station positions, Bishop said, and assignments will be made based on seniority.

The big winners are the residents of Apple Valley, Bishop said, because the station was not funded by taxpayers and the station can respond to emergencies across town if necessary. The fire department gets about 1,000 calls for the Jess Ranch area per year, Bishop said.

The grand opening will be Saturday, starting with a ribbon chopping (using a fireman s ax) at 9 a.m. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be a health fair, live music, fire engine rides, station tours and more.

Wal-Mart and St. Mary Medical Center partnered to make goodie bags, and the fire fighters will barbecue turkey hot dogs (in honor of the Jess Ranch turkey tradition) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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