Makalei Fire Station in North Kona Blessed
For the people of Kona, it means faster emergency responses and lower insurance premiums. For future firefighters, it’s a modern classroom to learn the art of fire science. And for the fire fighters who keep our community safe, it’s home.
“Welcome to your home,” Hawai‘i County Fire Chief Darren Rosario told about 80 people in attendance as the County of Hawai‘i opened the doors to its newest and largest facility, the $7 million Makalei Fire Station.
Located on Māmalahoa Highway less than a mile north of its intersection with Ka‘iminani Drive, the 11,000 square foot Makalei station sits on more than two acres just south of the 32-mile marker on the mauka side of the highway.
The fire station, designed by KYA Design Group, includes three apparatus bays, hose tower, pump house, office, kitchen and training room, dormitory, exercise/work rooms, a dedicated classroom, laundry room, fuel tank and parking areas for staff and guests. Parked outside one of the bays was a bright yellow pumper with “North Kona” emblazoned on the doors. The station will also feature a hazardous materials unit and a ladder truck.
About $4 million of the funding for the project came from a federal grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through its Fire Station Construction Grant Program. Ground was broken in March 2011.
“This is a special day here in Kalaoa, in North Kona. This 11,000 square foot home will house those who run in when a lot of us are running out. Those who protect our community, protect our parents, our kūpuna, protect our children,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.
Joining Mayor Kenoi and Chief Rosario in speaking at today’s blessing were former Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira, Kahu Kaniala Akaka, who performed the blessing, and Hannah Kihalani Springer, who gave a history of the area and the Makalei name.
The station will positively impact the Kalaoa area of North Kona with quicker emergency response times and lower homeowner insurance rates. Before Makalei Fire Station was built, the next closest unit was seven miles to the south at the intersection of Palani Road and Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway. Response time from the Kailua Kona Station to Makalei is about 15 minutes.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the station is the hose tower, which doubles as a training facility for building fires and cliff rescues. Materials used to manufacture modern hoses make hose towers optional features on fire stations, but the one at Makalei has a catwalk on the inside that will be used to train a firefighter how to pick up a victim and get him out of a building. The tower will also be used to train recruits how to rappel down the side of a building or a cliff during an emergency. Also included in the facility is a dedicated classroom.