Renovation begins on Austin fire, EMS station on East Riverside

Austin Fire Department

Austin Fire Department

Austin city officials on Wednesday broke ground on the reconstruction of a joint fire and EMS station on East Riverside Drive.

The station, at 5309 E. Riverside Drive, is one of several that have been prioritized for renovations as part of the city’s goal to meet quick response times.

The goal: First responders should arrive within eight minutes of a call being received 90% of the time. That is consistent with the national standards set by the Commission of Fire Accreditation International and the National Fire Protection Association, the city said.

As Austin expands, more pressure has been put on area fire and EMS stations to respond to the growing needs of the people it serves — an issue that is being felt across the Central Texas region, including the fast-growing Hays County.

Austin officials knew in 2018 that this was something they would have to tackle and set out to build five new stations around the city and renovate several existing fire and EMS stations to meet the needs of the community quickly and efficiently.

A new station in Del Valle was completed in 2020, and another in Southwest Austin opened in 2021. A new fire station in the Davenport area along Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360) is expected to be completed this year.

Austin Fire Chief Joel Baker said Wednesday’s groundbreaking was a step toward improving service to areas with slow response times and high population growth.

“With these new, rebuilt and renovated stations in the pipeline, I’m looking forward to seeing us achieve our goals of responding quickly and efficiently to the city’s emergency needs,” Baker said.

City Council Member José Velásquez, who represents the area, also praised the work, promising to keep public safety as one of his top priorities.

“It’s no secret that Austin is expanding in every direction, whether it’s in our district or any other area of ​​the city,” Velásquez said. “Given the continued expansion, I will continue working with my council colleagues to make public safety one of our top priorities so that all people can receive prompt help.”

The renovated station will feature more than 10,600 square feet of space, including a three-vehicle bay and a fitness room. It was not immediately clear Wednesday how much the renovation will cost the city. Completion is slated for early 2024, city officials said.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Renovation begins on Austin fire, EMS station on East Riverside