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The City Journals

A new era of fire protection dawns at the spacious UFA fire station on Redwood Road

Mar 28, 2017 04:16PM ● By Bryan Scott

About 200 people attended the Taylorsville-Plymouth Fire Station #117 grand opening. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

New Unified Fire Authority Chief Dan Petersen—and other department brass—unveiled their newest fire station last month, to a crowd of about 200 dignitaries and other members of the community.

“I’ve had a lot of fun days since joining the department (Jan. 17),” Petersen said. “And this is one of the better ones.”

The new Taylorsville-Plymouth Fire Station #117 is UFA’s fifth new station in about seven years.

“This will be our last new one for a while,” said Battalion Chief Jay Ziolkowski. “We’ve run out of bond money. But the upgrades we’ve made are very significant.”

The new station is just a few blocks south of the old one, on the east side of Redwood Road, at 4965 South. 

“This new station is seven times larger than the old one,” Ziolkowski added. “It features ten individual sleeping quarters and has the largest apparatus bay (garage area) of any of our facilities.”

The previous UFA Fire Station #117 was just 3,120 square feet, compared to the new one at 22,616 square feet. It has room to park 10 large emergency response vehicles.

“The new station also has a large community conference room,” Ziolkowski added. “So now, we will be able to help serve Taylorsville citizens by providing a meeting space on occasion.”

The new fire station cost just over $6 million to construct. The cost of the property was $650,000. Station #117 took less than 16 months to construct.

Taylorsville Mayor Larry Johnson and Council Vice Chairman Dan Armstrong offered words of congratulation during the March 7 grand opening ceremony.

Some fifth-grade students from nearby Plymouth Elementary School also played a key role.

“One of our firehouse traditions is to give our equipment a thorough washing before they are parked in a new station,” Ziolkowski said.  “So, we asked the students to give us a hand with that.”

The “ribbon cutting” itself was unique, as UFA officials uncoupled a fire hose across one of the garage doorways instead.

Draper City has voted to opt out of UFA fire protection service this summer, to create its own city department. But even with that loss, UFA will still have a jurisdiction of some 400,000 residents, from Magna to Millcreek.

Petersen came to the department from southern Oregon. He began his fire safety career nearly 40 years ago as a volunteer firefighter.

“I wasn’t looking for work when I was approached about this position,” Petersen said. “But after looking into it, I was impressed with the quality of people and the community mindedness of the organization. My wife and I decided moving the Utah was our new adventure, and so far, we couldn’t be happier.”

Petersen is now in charge of about 550 full-time career professionals and 150 part-time employees. UFA operates 28 fire stations serving 14 communities.

The new fire station replaces one built in 1976, and this one is expected to serve Taylorsville even longer.

“This is designed to be a 75-year station,” Ziolkowski said. “It holds much more equipment than our previous station, including a lot of specialized apparatus. Because it is centrally located within our district, this new station will be kind of a flagship location for housing equipment that will be used throughout the Unified Fire Authority.”

Ziolkowski received praise on behalf of his department at a recent Taylorsville City Council meeting, as he offered elected officials a quarterly UFA report. In it, he pointed out fire emergency response times in the city have improved in recent years.

“Four years ago, I know that was a problem,” Council Chairman Brad Christopherson told the battalion chief. “I’m happy to see that improvement and now, with this new station, I think it’s fantastic.”

Once they were done washing down the fire trucks, the visiting fifth-graders (and others) received guided tours of the new station. One of their highlights came when a firefighter demonstrated a slide down the station’s brass fire pole.

“These aren’t very common in new stations,” one firefighter commented. “But we’re glad to have it here.”

It will likely get plenty of use. Even during the relatively short open house ceremony an emergency call came in, forcing those who were on duty during the event to spring into action.