County’s 22nd firehouse enhances fire, rescue response to Staples Mill corridor
Henrico has cut the ribbon on Staples Mill Firehouse 20, but its celebration was about more than a sparkling, brick building to serve a growing area of the county.
In remarks to more than 500 people at the Jan. 28 grand-opening event, Brookland District Supervisor Dan Schmitt called Firehouse 20 a symbol of the Division of Fire’s excellence and praised the firefighters who will be stationed there.
“I’m thankful for the brave men and women that will fill this building with an abundance of passion, drive and a very-hard-to-explain desire to simply serve others – to literally make a life-or-death difference for the lives of others,” said Schmitt, who is the son of a firefighter. “These folks are heroes with helmets, rather than capes.”
Firehouse 20 – at 8521 Willis Road, near Staples Mill and Parham roads – has averaged about 10 calls per day since being marked into service Jan. 4.
It’s the county’s 22nd fire station and the first of two funded through Henrico’s voter-approved 2016 bond referendum; Nine Mile Road Firehouse 23 is expected to begin construction this spring and open in summer 2024 at 5618 Nine Mile Road. Firehouse 20 also is the county’s first station with as many as four apparatus bays; it’s assigned a fire engine and a medic unit.
U.S. Rep Rob Wittman, of the 1st Congressional District, said the facility reflects the community’s commitment to excellence in public safety. In 2016, nearly 87% of voters approved the $22.1 million bond issue to upgrade fire stations and other fire facilities.
“You, as citizens of Henrico, said, ‘Yes, we want to build facilities like this,’” he said. “‘We want to make sure that we provide the tools for these fantastic firefighters to continue to do the great job that they do and protect our communities.’”
Firehouse 20 encompasses 12,795 square feet and features a day room, fitness room, kitchen, individual bunk rooms and meeting space. It’s designed with firefighter safety in mind, with areas and processes for the handling and decontamination of uniforms, equipment and gear. It’s also set up for rapid response, with bifold bay doors that open sideways – about 10 seconds faster than traditional overhead doors.
In addition, the station was built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards of the U.S. Green Building Council. It’s Henrico’s first new fire station since 2018, when Short Pump Firehouse 19 opened at 12324 Kain Road.
County Manager John A. Vithoulkas used the grand opening to announce Jackson P.F. Baynard as the division’s new fire chief. Baynard joined the division as a firefighter in 2003, rose through its ranks and served most recently as assistant fire chief. He succeeds Alec W. Oughton, who retired recently after nearly four years as chief.
“We know we have some work ahead of us, but we’re committed to it, and I know the men and women of this organization are committed to it,” Baynard said. “We’re one team. We’re one mission moving forward … We’re going to be and will be the best fire department in the world.”