Fort Leonard Wood Fire Station No. 3 officially opened Friday morning. With a snip of the scissors, Brig. Gen. James Bonner, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, and Col. Jeff Paine, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, completed a ribbon-cutting ceremony, during which both leaders thanked everyone involved in the planning and construction of the 17,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility.

“What a great day to serve here in the Ozarks,” Bonner said. “When you look at our commitment to take care of our personnel and our community, it’s so fitting that we are here today with the fire department. They are great teammates, (and) we appreciate all they do for us.”

The location of the new facility in Bldg. 2375 on Oklahoma Avenue, will allow firefighters to respond to nearly any emergency in the eastern part of the cantonment area within minutes. Paine said the project was, “a long time coming” and involved the combined efforts of several individuals and departments.

“This whole endeavor has been a team effort,” he said. “It was managed by the Kansas City District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and this project brought together the leadership out of (the Directorate of Emergency Services), our Fire Emergency Services, the Directorate of Public Works and the Garrison Headquarters, to define the requirements and to make it our own. Thank you to everyone who was involved in this and involved in finishing this great facility.”

The station features new offices and classrooms for training, as well as quality-of-life amenities for the firefighters who will essentially live there during 24-hour shifts, including a commercial-grade kitchen and laundry. Fire Chief Brad Bowling previously described the project as, “a big morale boost” to his department.

Paine said the new facility was an example of the garrison’s commitment to both the fire department and the greater Fort Leonard Wood community.

“As leaders of the garrison, it’s our primary responsibility to make sure that we take care of our employees, that we provide them with the training, the education and the resources they need so they can serve our customers with excellence,” he said. “Our firefighters provide that customer service in a very real and extreme sense — literally saving lives and offering comfort on the worst of days. This new fire station is a concrete commitment, a demonstration to our firefighters, to our Fire and Mercy Services Division and to our community. Fire Station No. 3 brings a crew capability to our Fire and Mercy Services Division. It provides a base for mission command for Chief Bowling and his leadership team for the entire fire department. It provides improved comfort to our firefighters while on their shift, as well as more space to maintain their critical equipment. Finally, it allows them to rapidly respond to fires anywhere on the installation in the blink of an eye. Putting out fires and saving lives — that’s what they do.”

In his opening invocation to start the ceremony, Lt. Col. (Chaplain) Walter Marshall also focused on the essential work Fort Leonard Wood’s firefighters provide.

“May this station be a place where they find shelter, rest, recovery and camaraderie,” he said.