Fire Station 1 is back in action after being vacated due to the Porterville Public Library fire that shook the community to its core on February 18. Because Station 1 abuts where the library once stood, no fire personnel had been working in the station since the blaze that destroyed the library was extinguished.
Porterville City Firefighters Ray Figueroa and Patrick Jones died battling the blaze.
Now that the library has been completely demolished and the rubble has been removed, fire personnel are now staffing the station, and have been since Saturday. On Monday morning, the C-Shift was back for their first shift at Station 1 since February. The B-Shift was staffing the station through the weekend.
“The City is grateful that its Fire Department personnel were able to return to Station 1 and continue their invaluable service to the community,” said Porterville City Manager John Lollis. “Having temporarily closed Station 1 after the catastrophic library fire, and given the station could not be completely structurally cleared until the demolition of the burned structure, the Fire Department had combined Station 1 operations with Station 2. The City is tremendously appreciative of its staff, the insurance parties and the demolition contractor that worked diligently together to ensure the safe and timely demolition of the remaining library structure to enable the resume of service at Station 1.”
Porterville Fire Chief Dave LaPere echoed the same sentiments as Lollis.
“We tore down the wall and cleaned it all up,” said LaPere. “That was done so quickly. I'm really appreciative of the Engineering Division in the City of Porterville, Javier Sanchez and Sarah Weaver for making that happen so fast.”
LaPere also clarified for the time being, one engine will run out of Station 1. He also mentioned that the department is doing everything they can to keep their employees safe, also stating the station is still closed to the public.
“We are running a single engine out of the station right now,” said LaPere. “And we have sent home non-essential folks that work here. It is up and running.”