VIRGINIA BEACH — Residents on the north end here can rest a little easier following the opening of a joint city-military fire station at Fort Story, which allows city emergency response crews to respond to emergencies in the North End much more quickly than they could previously.
Art Kohn, public information officer for the Virginia Beach Fire Department, said that after more than a year of planning, on May 5 the city and the military were finally able to get the joint fire station open and operating.
“It works out well for everyone involved,” Kohn said. “It gives us closer access to the North End and it provides additional manpower for the base if needed.”
Up until now crews responding to calls to the north end came from Station No. 1 on Shore Drive, Station No. 11 on Virginia Beach Boulevard, or even Station No. 12 on South Birdneck Road.
Mayor Louis Jones said a 2001 study that identified areas of the city which were more than four minutes from an existing fire station was a driving factor in finding a location in or near the North End. The challenges in finding land slowed the process, but made the decision to work with the military and Fort Story easy.
Capt. Joey Frantzen, commander of the Joint Expeditionary Base, agreed that the decision was a no-brainer.
“It was an easy decision for me right away,” he said. “It’s all about saving lives.”
Not only will the joint station benefit Virginia Beach responders and residents, but Frantzen said it will also provide backup for the Navy’s firefighters.
While working with the bases located within the city (Fort Story, Little Creek, and NAS Oceana) is nothing new, both city and military officials said this is the first jointly operated fire station they are aware of.
Not only is the city running an engine out of the joint station, but they plan to operate a surf and water rescue operation from there as well.