Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue (RRFR) officially reopened Station #6 in the Mariposa community Oct. 10 after a long wait for it to be open.
“Station 6 is currently open and staffed. We had a renovation project on Station 2 that lasted approximately three months. During that time, our Station 2 crew moved into Station 6. Now, Station 6 is fully reopened as well as Station 2, so all seven of our stations are staffed at this time,” Firemedic Sean Gerdemann said.
To fully staff Station 6, RRFR had to hire an academy. Once the last academy was acquired, Station 6 was able to run functionally.
RRFR has 123 total department members. There are 120 first responders. 13 of which are administrative command.
“Station 6 is staffed with a captain, an engineer and a firefighter. It will rotate between three shifts: A, B and C,” Gerdemann said.
One of the issues with reopening the station was that the ground underneath the station had settled and the building had split apart in its foundation.
“We had some issues with settling of the foundation and infestation with animals,” Gerdemann explained.
The building has been completely renewed with new floors, paint and doors. It also has its own equipment, including response vehicles.
The main issue with getting Station 6 up and running, though, had to do with population and need in the area.
“Initially, when Station 6 was built, it was being built along with that community in Mariposa. As it kind of goes with any municipality, emergency services are really based on the collection of the population,” Gerdemann said.
Because the population was heavily built toward the south of Rio Rancho, fire stations were also built that way, he added.
Now that more development is being added in in and around the Mariposa communities in the north part of town, the need for Station 6 to be reopened has become stronger.
“It’s hard to staff a full crew for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and pay them with taxpayer dollars. Then residents will call maybe 12 times a year,” he said.
Gerdemann added that they have seen an exponential increase in call volume in the northern parts of Rio Rancho in the past five years. He says that and help from City Councilor Bob Tyler pushed for the station to be reopened.
The emergency medical technician position is a harder position to fill. Gerdemann said all staff have at least the basic level of EMT training and will be able to start initial care before paramedics arrived.
A concern raised by residents in the past, with the station closed, was response times. Gerdemann says now that the station is open, those will improve significantly.
“Station 5 in Enchanted Hills had been responding to those calls out there. So now they’re going to be able to focus more on their district and have a better response to their people,” he said.
Members of the community who are interested in seeing the renewed and open Station 6 will have an opportunity to do so Oct. 28 when the station opens its doors to the public for a Halloween open house.