Travilah Fire Station No. 32 officially opened April 30 with a celebration with county officials, but the station had its “soft opening” about two months ago.
So far, it looks as if the station at the corner of Darnestown and Shady Grove roads in North Potomac was much needed.
“In 60 days, they have responded to almost 900 incidents, including five working fires,” said Montgomery County Fire Chief Steve Lohr. “It’s in the right place at the right time.”
Lohr said the station fills a critical need and will relieve the stress on Station 3 in Rockville and Station 31, which also is on Darnestown Road in North Potomac, near the intersection of Quince Orchard Road. They are two of the county’s busiest stations.
“It serves a variety of needs, including Interstates 270 and 370 and the Intercounty Connector. There is a lot of high-value real estate and a lot of citizens,” he said. “We’re really excited about having it.”
Capt. Thomas R. Gartner, a 28-year veteran of the department, is the station commander.
His favorite part of the job is that it’s busy, Gartner said. Getting out on calls as often as his crew does makes it easier to learn the area and its buildings.
“It makes the day go fast,” he said.
The single-story, 26,550-square-foot station serves about 40,000 people in a 13-square-mile area that covers Traville, Fallsgrove, western Rockville, Travilah and North Potomac. Its personnel are the first responders for incidents at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.
Gartner oversees three shifts of six or seven fire and rescue personnel each. The station has one emergency medical service ambulance and one paramedic fire truck. It has room in its four apparatus bays to accommodate more equipment, but there will have to be a proven need and money in the county budget before it’s added, he said.
The station also has living areas that include a large kitchen, a lounge, exercise room and dormitory space, as well as plenty of office space and classrooms for training.
The $12 million building is expected to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council due to its many environmentally sensitive design features, according to a county press release. Those include clerestory windows to allow daylight into occupied spaces; water-efficient plumbing fixtures; energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and the use of recycled and locally manufactured materials.