State, miltary officials dedicate new Truax fire station
By Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue, Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs
/ Published February 23, 2010
Madison, Wis. -- One of the Wisconsin National Guard's newest facilities serves more than just military assets by providing continuous emergency support to more than 1.5 million passengers who fly in and out of the Dane County Regional Airport every year. U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, along with Dane County and Wisconsin National Guard officials, formally dedicated a newly renovated, $6 million fire station at the airport Feb. 19.
The 12-month renovation provided much-needed space - increasing the station from 9,300 to 23,500 square feet. The increase makes room for state-of-the-art vehicles and equipment, recently purchased by the National Guard Bureau, and also for better training and quality-of-life facilities for "around-the-clock" emergency responders.
Kohl was a motivated catalyst behind acquiring the funds for the project, securing the funds as part of the Department of Defense's Future Years Defense Program to support the fighter wing's increased role following Sept. 11. At the ceremony, Kohl again voiced his support for the project.
"You provide a service that is really important, really useful, really critical and absolutely necessary," Kohl said. "So when we had an opportunity to make a decision to expand this facility ... it was, for me, an easy decision, as well as for Rep. [Tammy] Baldwin, with the full participation of [Dane County Executive] Kathleen Falk. It's in that spirit that we got that done."
The emergency responders on Truax Field provided emergency response capabilities for more than 95,000 incoming and outgoing flights at DCRA in 2009, despite the fact only 9,000 of those flights can be attributed to Army and Air National Guard aircraft.
"The airport is incredibly proud of the cooperation and the agreement that we have amongst the airport and the military," said Dave Jensen, DCRA deputy director. "We take great comfort in knowing the service that you provide not only the military but every single user of this airport. It's incredibly comforting for us to know that you are here for us."
The Truax Fire and Rescue Station responds to more than 250 calls each year, some of which go to many of the 14 local communities they share a mutual-aid agreement with, including Madison, Maple Bluff, Blooming Grove, Sun Prairie, DeForest, Waunakee, Cottage Grove, McFarland, Marshall, Stoughton, Middleton, Deerfield, Cambridge and Monona.
"With the current airport-joint agreement we have with Dane County and Dane County Regional Airport, it's a huge benefit to the county and to the community for us to be here," said Master Sgt. Gary Peck, Truax Field fire chief.
Peck also said a civilian airport of this size typically maintains about four to six full-time personnel, compared to the 31 full-time and 27 traditional Guard members that the Truax Field fire and rescue station currently employs. Of the full-time employees, only four are funded through Dane County.
"Personally, as the fire chief, I am so grateful for everything that we have," Peck said. "With this new facility, I promise that our airport fire department will continue to be dedicated to excellence and will continue to provide the highest level of service possible to all that we serve."