What's happening

Officials announced April 19 that the city of Austin, the Austin Fire Department and Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services broke ground on the renovation of a high-priority fire and EMS station on East Riverside Drive.

The fire/EMS station at 5309 E. Riverside Drive, Austin, is slated for completion in early 2024.

Why this is important

Austin City Council set a goal in 2018 for Austin fire emergency response times to be no longer than eight minutes 90% of the time—a goal consistent with national standards set by the Commission of Fire Accreditation International and the National Fire Protection Association. To achieve this goal, several priority stations have been slated for renovation and reconstruction in the coming years, officials said.

What officials are saying

“It's no secret that Austin is expanding in every direction, whether it's in our district or any other area of the city,” District 3 Council Member Jose Miguel Anwar Velasquez said in a statement April 19. “Given the continued expansion, I will continue working with my council colleagues to make public safety one of our top priorities so that all people can receive prompt help.”

Fire Chief Joel G. Baker said this is just another step toward the goal of improving service to areas with low response times and/or high population growth.

“We have been tasked with building new stations to serve these ever-growing communities. But we can’t forget the original stations ... the stations that anchored the city for so long,” said James Snow, the interim director of the Austin Public Works Department, in a released statement.

ATCEMS Chief Robert Luckritz said he recognizes the focus on equity in managing the distribution of the city’s longstanding and upcoming assets and resources.

“It is my hope that community members will feel even more at ease once this reconstructed station opens—one they can continue to support and be proud of in their neighborhoods,” Luckritz said in a statement.

What it will look like

The renovated station will be about 10,600 square feet and have a three-vehicle apparatus bay and fitness room, officials said. It is being designed a U.S. Green Building and to show integrated concepts of technology and nature. In addition, Art in Public Places art—a collaboration with local and nationally known artists—will be integrated into the site design for those traveling along East Riverside Drive to enjoy, officials said.