Fire station on donated land brings teaching opportunities

Two years ago, Las Vegas city councilwoman Lois Tarkanian approached officials from the College of Southern Nevada with an innovative idea to build a new fire station.

If CSN donated land near its Charleston Campus, the city would build a new fire station and include classroom space for CSN students, especially targeting those in the fire science program.

“All it is is common sense,” Tarkanian said, referring to the coming-together of public entities to solve common problems.

On Monday, Tarkanian joined several other city, state and education officials, along with Las Vegas Fire and Rescue members, to mark the grand opening of Fire Station 6.

Tarkanian said that in 2008, the city couldn’t find affordable land to build a new station near the CSN Charleston Campus that would serve areas farther west and south. Meanwhile, she said many CSN students were on a waiting list for the fire science program because of a lack of classroom space.

The new, almost $7 million station, which was completed under budget, sits on the edge of CSN’s Charleston Campus and across from Bonanza High School at the intersection of Torrey Pines Drive and Oakey Boulevard.

“This is a bargain for taxpayers,” CSN President Michael Richards said. “This is a deal.”

The station includes three classrooms for use by CSN students, including those in the fire science program, an upgraded exercise room for firefighters and more spacious kitchen, living room and dormitory areas for the crews who work in rotating 24-hour shifts.

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Chief Greg Gammon said fire science students will receive a hands-on experience at the station, which he said is the first of its kind in the country. A glass wall near the classrooms looks in on the station’s equipment room with fire trucks and engines.

“The students, they’re going to be able to look right in the equipment room and see what firefighters do,” he said. “That’s something you don’t typically get in a classroom setting.”

Given the station’s proximity to Bonanza High School, Gammon also worked with Principal Bart Mangino to create a career technical academy at the high school for students interested in fire science. Students who participate will receive college credit for the courses through CSN, he said.

The Bonanza students met for the first time Monday morning in a high school classroom, and CSN students began using the station’s classroom that evening.

Although mostly retired firefighters teach the fire science courses, Gammon said all firefighters at Station 6 know they’re working in a teaching environment.

“We expect some excellent teaching from them to these new students,” he said.

Erik Channing, a CSN junior in the fire science and emergency medical services program, is one of those students who expects to benefit from the new classroom setup.

“The vision of how the station runs on a day-to-day basis will help tremendously,” said Channing, who also is a senator in the CSN student government.

Previously, Channing said fire science students would rotate among stations to gain field experience and observe firefighters.

“The students are going to be really excited,” said Channing, who has wanted to go into fire science since he was 14 years old. “The teachers are really excited, and I think the firefighters are, too.”

Even so, the opening of the new Station 6 is more of a bittersweet moment for people such as Russ Hubbs, captain of the ladder truck who spent the past 12 years at the old station near U.S. 95 and Jones Boulevard.

“It’s a new stage,” he said, adding that the new Station 6 is a great facility.

Station 6 includes solar panels on the roof as part of the city’s ongoing solar project to save money. City Manager Betsy Fretwell said Las Vegas already received a $127,000 rebate check from NV Energy because of the station’s energy-saving design.

Tarkanian said she hopes the success of the new station — both financially and logistically — serves as a catalyst for other collaborative efforts throughout the city.

“I think things like this will make people more and more wanting to do this,” she said.

In the meantime, Gammon said the new station, in collaboration with CSN, will help the department continue its nationally ranked services.

“Through these classrooms next door will be emerging the next generation of fire science workers who will be protecting our valley and our citizens,” he said.

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