Five Firefighters with Mecca Roots to be Honored at Thursday’s Fire Station Groundbreaking
MECCA – Five local firefighters who grew up in Mecca and graduated from Mecca Elementary School and Coachella Valley High School will be honored at the groundbreaking of Mecca Fire Station #40 at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Mecca (91-350 66th Ave.).
The 12,411-square-foot facility will replace the 3,058-square-foot station, built in 1952, located at 91-100 Fourth St. The station will include three brand-new bays and an eight-bed dormitory. Its compact design will help reduce response times. Photovoltaic panels installed on carports will reduce facility energy costs. The station also features drive-through capability for fire equipment, eliminating the need to stop traffic so large equipment can back into the bay.
“This new fire station adds features that will reduce response time and facility energy costs while improving public safety in Mecca,” said Supervisor John J. Benoit. “It is particularly fitting that five firefighters who grew up in Mecca, volunteered at the old fire station and continued to serve most of their careers in the Coachella Valley, will be honored on this special day.”
Raymond Paiz (service years, 1979-2009), division chief of the Indio battalion (retired); Efren Tarango (1980-2010), fire apparatus engineer at Mecca Fire Station #40 (retired); Marcos Machuca (1977-), fire captain at Coachella Fire Station #79; Fernando Herrera (1980-), fire captain at North Shore Fire Station #41 and Bonifacio De La Cruz (1985-), fire captain at Mecca Fire Station #40, will receive certificates from Supervisor John J. Benoit and other community leaders at Thursday’s ceremony. A taco lunch will be served following the groundbreaking.
Funded by an estimated $5.1 million from redevelopment and capital improvement funds, the new Mecca Fire Station is estimated to create 134 jobs and is expected to be completed in January 2012.
The Mecca Fire Station will be the fifth major improvement to take shape since the Redevelopment Agency approved the Mecca Downtown Revitalization Plan in January 2006.
Since 2008, the Community Library and Riverside County Sheriff’s Station and the Mecca Family Service Center and Community Health Clinic have opened. Last April, construction began on the Mecca Boys & Girls Clubhouse, expected to open in April 2011. The county is undergoing the second of the five-phase, $22 million Downtown Street Revitalization Project to construct approximately seven miles of street, sidewalk, curb and gutter, and street light improvements for fifteen streets within the 1.3 square-mile downtown area.
Considering future projects such as a new Post Office and senior center, Riverside County has invested $57 million to increase access to public services and revitalize Mecca’s downtown.