CHEYENNE – Laramie County Fire District 2 officially opened its new station Saturday, marking a new phase in the agency’s service to the north and northwest portions of Cheyenne and the county.
The grand opening of the new station, located at 410 Horse Creek Road near Cheyenne’s Prairie Wind Elementary, drew a substantial crowd Saturday that came to see the new digs and celebrate the next chapter in LCFD2’s service to the community.
The location will allow the district to better respond to emergencies along Interstate 25 as well as the rapidly expanding northern portion of the city and county, said LCFD2 Chief Jason Caughey.
“The station now fits modern apparatus. In 1975, when that station was built, the fire trucks were considerably smaller. So we’ve been shoe-horning fire trucks into a very small building,” Caughey said. “The location allows us to go north and south, east to west in our district very rapidly. And by extending us out farther, we now help our citizens that were outside of the protection area and they now have lower homeowners insurance.”
Back in 1975, when the old station at 8843 Yellowstone Road was built, Caughey said the district responded to less than 100 calls for service per year. Now LCFD2 gets between 1,200 to 1,300 calls a year, and it needs to staff its stations with both professional and volunteer firefighters 24/7.
“The goal was to provide an area that feels like their second home. So they want to be here to provide that service to the community. As volunteers, you’re taking time away from your family and loved ones to serve their community,” Caughey said. “They live in the building for that shift. They were sleeping on camping cots before, now we have beds for them.”
Caughey said the old station will now be used to store the district’s special equipment as well as act as a base for the LCFD2’s wildland fire team. The district is also partnering with the Cheyenne Saddle Tramps Riding Club to allow them to store their tractor at the station, as well as to use rooms there for meetings.
Laramie County Commissioner Buck Holmes said the district had saved money years before construction to start the design process, and a sixth-penny sales tax ballot measure for $2 million was approved in 2017 by voters.
The district then used that money to finance the approximate $2.5 million construction cost so as not to delay the opening.
Holmes served as a volunteer firefighter with the district and then on its board before being elected as a county commissioner. He said the new station is a far cry from what he and his fellow volunteers were used to back when he served.
“I’m envious. We bought used pickups and found water tanks to put on them, and we had to do all the maintenance,” Holmes said. “Back when we were there, we were all volunteers and nobody stayed at the station. So we all had to respond from wherever we were and pick up the vehicles. Now they have people at the station at the time so there’s immediate response.”
Capt. Sam Clarke, a volunteer with LCFD2 for 19 years, said the district has moved over part of its Laramie County Community College residency program to the new station, which will both improve staffing and response times in the area.
Clarke said the outpouring of support, both at Saturday’s grand opening and at the ballot in 2017 where voters approved funding for the new station, was felt by LCFD2’s members.
“It’s wonderful, it really is. It’s very nice they were able to initially vote for that sixth-penny sales tax and get that approved, and then come out and see it,” Clarke said. “I think it’s important for the community to come out and see the end product.”
Ingrid Bonner and Orlo Bonner live in LCFD2’s service area and have been waiting for the new station to open since it was announced. Orlo Bonner said he had been in the old station several times, and after touring the new station, he was very impressed with the upgrade.
“This is huge. We live up (U.S.) 85 and it’s going to help everyone,” Orlo Bonner said.
Ingrid Bonner said the new station was worth the wait and will be a benefit to both the firefighters and the community.
“This new station is impressive. They have a lot more room now, and they’re going to be a lot happier,” Ingrid Bonner said. “If you look at the map, this station has the biggest (service area) of all of them. They really needed that. The community needed that.”