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Makalei Fire Station breaks ground

Officials and dignitaries wait for the word to break ground at Makalei Fire Station. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

The island’s biggest fire station is officially under way.

Makalei Fire Station was ushered in with an official groundbreaking and blessing Monday, May 9.

The station is located on 2-3 acres south of the 32 mile marker on the mauka side of Old Mamalahoa Highway across from Makalei Drive in North Kona.

“This marks the first formal construction step toward establishing a much needed emergency response facility in North Kona, and I would like to thank the residents for their patience in this long awaited project,” Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira said.

Oliveira said the project, first proposed in 1999, has overcome several obstacles and challenges, including location, land acquisition, topography and timing.

Oliveira thanked former councilman Curt Tyler and former mayor Harry Kim for their vision and perseverance, as well as Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration for follow through on the project.

“This is very huge for our department and huge for our community,” he said.

Kahu Danny Akaka blesses the site. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Mayor Billy Kenoi previously said he was pleased to see the project moving forward.

“This important public safety project is funded in part with $4 million the Fire Department obtained by competing for a federal grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” Kenoi said. “Winning that grant saved money for county taxpayers, and allowed this critically needed public safety project to move forward.”

Oliveira said the 11,000-square-foot station will have multiple positive impacts, including a much quicker response time and lower homeowner insurance rates.

“From the Kailua Fire Station to Matsuyama Store is about six miles,” Oliveira said. “This new station will put lots of homes in a lower insurance rate. That is good for everybody.”

Kahu Danny Akaka at the Makalei Fire Station site. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

Oliveira said construction is expected to take 18 months.

The fire station will include an apparatus bay with three bays, hose tower, pump house, grounds maintenance storage, office, kitchen/training room, dormitory, shower/restroom facilities, exercise/work rooms, laundry room, fuel tank, and parking areas for staff and guests.

The station will also have a HazMat Unit (currently located in Waikoloa), an engine apparatus, and a ladder apparatus.

Future emergency medical services will depend on the county budget, Oliveira said.

More than half the cost will be covered by a federal fire station construction grant, which pitched in $4 million and must be used by August-September 2012.

The winning bid came in at $7 million, which is substantially lower than the $11 million .

Oliverira also thanked land owners who donated the acreage for that fire station. Tom Yamamoto and Peter Lynch originally pledged the land to the county, but filed for bankruptcy several years ago.

New land owners GKK Makalei agreed to uphold the deal and the station now is officially under way.

The construction project likely will create 25-30 jobs.

Kahu Danny Akaka Jr. performed the blessing.

View the Enivronmental Impact Statement PDF

Deputy Director Wally Lau and Fire Chief Darryl Oliveira untie the maile lei to kick start the Makalei Fire Station construction project. (Hawaii 24/7 photo by Karin Stanton)

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