Roseville fire station brings faster response time, new programs


Camille Huntley, 7, got a chance to use the fire hose with Roseville firefighter Adam Sabotta at her side during “Fridays with Firefighters” June 20. The Roseville Fire Department will hold the kid-friendly open house event at the new Lexington Avenue station every Friday through Labor Day. (Linda E. Andersen/Review)

Firefighters responding to a house fire on Sherren Street June 17 arrived within two minutes of receiving a call alerting them to the fire. (submitted photos)

Joe Huntley got the feel of real fire truck while at the Roseville Fire Station during “Fridays with Firefighters” June 20. (Linda E. Andersen/Review)

For homeowners like Deb Mosby and Ted Tessier, Roseville’s new fire station at 2701 Lexington Ave. N. means the difference between complete destruction of their home and having to do some minor remodeling.

Mosby and Tessier live just a few blocks away from the station on Sherren Street. On the evening of June 17, the pair returned to their home to find the electricity had gone out. Mosby went into the basement to switch the circuit breakers as Tessier left to go to work.

Unfortunately, Mosby said, switching the breakers didn’t work, so she began heading back up the stairs when she heard an unfamiliar sound in the darkness.

“I heard a noise, and I thought it was an animal. It sounded like hissing, and I thought ‘Is there a raccoon down here?’” she said.

In the pitch black of the basement, she contemplated going upstairs to take a nap and letting her husband deal with the critter, whatever it was.

“I was scared,” Mosby explained. “All the lights were out.”

However, she mustered up the courage to find out what was making the noise. As she walked toward a couch near the wall, she could see a white light coming from underneath the seat, “like someone had left a flashlight under it,” she said.

When she lifted the fabric flap to look under the couch, she saw white-hot sparks flying, and within minutes, the sofa was up in flames.

“My first thought was, ‘I need to get my photo albums!’” Mosby recalled. “But I knew I should just go get the puppies and get out of the house.”

Mosby’s two miniature schnauzers were “freaking out,” she said. But she estimated the Roseville Fire Department was there within five minutes after she called 911. Later analysis shows it was actually a two-minute response time, Fire Chief Tim O’Neill said.

The firefighters who responded to the fire quickly “took care of business,” Mosby recounted. In no time, the flames were put out and fire inspectors had examined the area to identify the cause of the fire.

“They said the outlet was clean,” Mosby explained. “But it could have been a lightning strike damaged some part of the wiring and flipping the breakers caused it to spark.”

Beyond a messy basement, the house is still livable and damage was minor.

“The scary part for me was, we could be dead,” Mosby said. “I was just going to lay down and take a nap upstairs.”

New station, new features

O’Neill says the new fire station, which was completed in the fall of 2013 and came with a $9.2 million price tag, has decreased emergency response time, which is aimed at an average of 3 1/2 minutes.

“Things are going really well,” O’Neill said, adding that the number of calls has been higher than usual in the first half of the year, which can be in part contributed to snowier, slipperier weather conditions this winter.

“We’re up 10 percent from last year,” he said. “But it might balance out through the end of the year.”

The fire station, where about five staff members can be found each day, can now host new community outreach programs, something O’Neill said is very important to the department.

“We’re always trying to do what we can to interact with the community,” he said. “And outreach starts with the kids.”

“Fridays with Firefighters” is a new, free program at the Lexington Fire Station that focuses on teaching kids--and parents--about fire prevention and safety precautions.

“We know there’s a lot of families looking for opportunities to get out of the house,” O’Neill said. The open house takes place each Friday from 10:30 a.m. to noon through Labor Day, and offers families the opportunity to see the inside of a fire truck, talk to firefighters, spray a fire hose and learn about fire safety, like “Stop, Drop and Roll” or how to use a fire extinguisher.

And at the end of the event, frozen treats sweeten the deal for participants.

“We’re very proud of our new station,” O’Neill said. “We get to give tours to show it off, making sure the community knows this is our building and what services we provide.”

The fire station’s upgrade means the world to people like Mosby and Tessier.

“I think people don’t realize that we don’t see [firefighters] very often, but when we do it’s life or death,” Mosby said. “We are still feeling just blessed that we got to keep this house! If not for those wonderful guys, we would be sitting in a hotel somewhere, with nothing.”

For more information about the Roseville Fire Department or the “Fridays with Firefighters” program, visit www.ci.roseville.mn.us/index.aspx?NID=347.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813. Follow her on Twitter @jholubnews.

 

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