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Los Banos moves ahead with plans on new fire station after securing funding

Here’s what to do when you hear a siren

The crews at Modesto Fire Station No. 5 responded to 4,200 calls last year. Whether it be a fire engine, a police officer or an ambulance, if its lights and sirens are on, here are the basics for yielding to emergency vehicles.
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The crews at Modesto Fire Station No. 5 responded to 4,200 calls last year. Whether it be a fire engine, a police officer or an ambulance, if its lights and sirens are on, here are the basics for yielding to emergency vehicles.

For years Los Banos officials have been clamoring for a new fire station.

But plans are now starting to move forward after legislators announced state funding has been secured for the project.

The 2019-2020 state budget has allocated $5 million to the construction of the new fire station, though how it may look like, where it would be located and when it may be built remains still unclear.

“A third (fire) station has been a need for quite some time to maintain some of the response times and availability, and provide additional resources as the community grows,” Los Banos Fire Chief Mason Hurley said.

The plan for the new fire station is to serve as a third fire station along with being a regional training facility and emergency operations center, Los Banos City Manager Alex Terrazas said.

That means enhanced fire services in other westside Merced County areas, including Gustine, Dos Palos and Santa Nella.

The fire station could also open the door to adding a fire training program in partnership with Merced College, Terrazas said.

Westside city and county officials, including Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta, Gustine Mayor Pat Nagy and Merced County Supervisor Scott Silveira, worked with state legislators Adam Gray, D-Merced, and Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, on securing funding for the project, according to a news release.

Initial estimates were nearly $10 million for the new facility. But planning for the fire station is still in preliminary stages and that cost could change, Terrazas said.

While a location for the station hasn’t been decided, Hurley said the southeast part of Los Banos has been a target for some time, noting the growing population and future planned growth along the Pioneer Road corridor.

“We’re excited and very thankful to (state legislators) for seeing the need and listening,” Hurley said.

The project is expected to soon go through a process for site selection, design and construction planning, Terrazas said.

Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.
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