NEW PORT RICHEY – From its birth in the early 1970s, the former Magnolia Valley Volunteer Fire Department blazed a path through the annals of West Pasco history.
On Tuesday, the torch was passed to the newly built Pasco Fire Rescue Station No. 30 at 7951 Massachusetts Ave., about a block east from the old location.
Several speakers recalled Magnolia Valley milestones during the ribbon cutting ceremony for the replacement brick fire station that replaces the metal structure that Pasco Fire Rescue inherited when it welcomed the former volunteer fire unit to its ranks a dozen years ago.
“This is not only a great day for Pasco County, it’s an extraordinary day for the fire service that was part of New Port Richey known as Magnolia Valley,” Pasco Fire Rescue Chief Scott Cassin told dozens of guests and dignitaries.
Brand new has “literally been years in the making,” Cassin remarked.
“Ever since those early beginnings, the Magnolia Valley volunteer fire department has been a family oriented organization, full of pride of ownership,” Cassin commented.
Cassin pointed out Magnolia Valley’s former Fire Chief Ray Lord in the audience, who built the first firehouse with 15 other volunteers in 1973.
Volunteer Jim Helm later became fire chief. He and his family called the Magnolia Valley station their “second home,”
The Burford family remained heavily involved over the decades, Cassin remembered. Mike Burford became fire chief from 1985 through 2002.
In May 2002 the Magnolia Valley Volunteer Fire Department building became a Pasco County station when the two departments merged. At that time, 32 Magnolia Valley volunteers protected some 6,500 homes.
Among spectators was Sean Carr, a retired firefighter who served from 1993 to 2007 at Magnolia Valley. He showed fire truck controls to his sons Griffin, 4, and Connor, 11.
During the tour after the ceremony, Litya Matthews, 5, and sister Simone, 10, checked out the ambulance now parked at the new station. They are the granddaughters of Norma Matthews.
Pasco County commissioners were //at the ceremony, as were Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker, Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano, state Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey, and numerous others.
The new facility with 8,100 square feet dwarfs the old firehouse, officials underscored. The station has three drive-through bays capable of housing as many as six pieces of apparatus.
Fire Station No. 30 will house a minimum of five personnel assigned per day, along with one fire engine and one paramedic ambulance. A 2,000-gallon tanker and one brush truck will be available as well.
Guests marveled at the relatively spacious quarters for crews in the dormitories.
A prototype for all other stations in the future, Station No. 30 cost about $2.1 million to build. Trias Construction handled construction from plans made by Fleishman Garcia Architects.