Bree Laughlin The World
Airport celebrates opening of aircraft rescue and fire fighting station
August 31, 2023
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  • Many community members came together to celebrate the grand opening of a brand-new Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Station at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend.

    The state of the art fire and rescue station is more than 12,000-square-feet in size and includes four truck bays, a workshop area, and a generator room, among many other features.

    The building took three years to complete and cost $7 Million.

    A Federal Aviation Administration Discretionary Grant of $6.5 Million paid for the majority of the project, along with funds from a State of Oregon Department of CORE Grant and the Coos County Airport District.

    It replaced a one of the few remaining World War ll era buildings that had outlived its useful life.

    The new aircraft rescue and fire station will serve the day-to-day operational needs of commercial and general aviation services.

     Fire Station Open House Overview

    The community attended an open house to celebrate the opening of a new Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Station at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport in North Bend.

    The station can also be used in the event of an emergency for an Emergency Command Center, with the ability to communicate to all local, regional, state, and federal emergency responders including the U.S. Coast Guard. It also has the capacity to serve as an emergency shelter in a natural disaster situation.

    The station will be staffed by six ARFF fire fighters, as well as seven maintenance crew members to provide support to ARFF units.

    Jason Bell, the chairman of the Coos County Airport District, addressed first responders, as well as many local government and airport officials during the grand opening ceremony on Thursday, Aug. 17.

    Bell said construction of the aircraft and rescue station began near the beginning of the COVID pandemic, which created complications for contractors.

    “We were challenged significantly by the pandemic by different shortfalls in construction … and everyone worked together very well to make this make it happen,” Bell said.

    Social distancing, mask requirements were in place while working outdoors, supply chains were already broken, and many material substitutions had to be made.

    In spite of the challenges, airport officials report that the construction crew were able to move forward to not only meet the FAA requirements for fire service, but also to be forward-thinking with the design.

    The bay area is large enough that it can house ARFF trucks that would be required for Index B Airport which services planes 90-feet-long and up to 126 feet.

    “If we were to get larger planes here, which the airport is certified for, we are going to need bigger equipment. This (fire and rescue station) is really flexible and can accommodate a lot bigger equipment that would be required for the larger aircraft,” Bell said.

    Some of the notable participants at the open house were Rodger Craddock, the Executive Director of the Coos County Airport District; Joe Slack, President of HGE Architects, which served the local subcontractor for the architectural design of the building. Mead & Hunt is the aviation architect of record.

    Also in attendance was Scott Partney, of Scott Partney Construction; Bob Hood the ARFF Fire Chief and Operations Manager at the Airport, and firefighters Russ Corona, David Shwarz, Mark Lane, Cole Barnes, and Bruce Armstrong.

    Airport officials gave special recognition to Helen Minneau during the grand opening ceremony.

    Minneau served as a board member for the Coos County Airport District for 20 years – since its formation in 2003 – and as the Chair for four years, before passing away earlier this year.

    During her time on the Board, Minneau helped to oversee millions of dollars of capital investment into the airport infrastructure. Her colleagues reported she was vested in her board position and never wavered in trying to improve air service for the community.

    Mike Collins, a former Coos County Airport Board Chairman who served with Minneau, presented a replica of the terminal plaque to Helen Minneau’s family. Rick Minneau and Nancy Layne accepted the award on her behalf.