Fire Station No. 81 has moved to a new home on the southwest corner of Madison and Woodlawn, across from Derby Middle School.

Previously at 128 W. Market, the station opened its doors in June at an invitation-only grand opening and July 4 at a community open house.

Mayor Randy White said the new location will allow the fire department better access to a growing part of the city. Along with improving response times, he said the location will prevent fire engines from being blocked by trains as they were at the previous site.

Outgoing Derby Fire Chief Brad Smith expressed gratitude to the city on behalf of the fire department, saying the station will serve residents for decades to come.

“I think it is a pretty awesome deal that as the City of Derby is celebrating its 150th anniversary, … [we] have a brand new fire station,” said Smith, who retired at the beginning of July.

His retirement ceremony was held July 5 at the new fire station.

Total cost for the project was $6.5 million, which includes the cost of the land, design and engineering, construction, and a statue outside the station. It will serve as an administrative center for Derby Fire and Rescue.

The 20,842-square-foot facility rests on a 2.3-acre plot of land, which the city purchased for $255,500 from Derby Public Schools. Money for the project was designated in the city’s 2018 capital improvement plan.

Inside the station’s living quarters, visitors were able to view kitchen and laundry space, bunks, a locker room and more. On the administrative side are several conference rooms, office spaces, and a weight room.

In lieu of a ribbon-cutting ceremony, children and officials uncoupled two firehoses to symbolize the station’s opening, followed by a congratulatory call from Sedgwick County dispatch.

Officials then unveiled “Answering the Alarm,” a bronze statue of two firefighters in action by local sculptor John Parsons.

A 1973 Derby High graduate, Parsons and his family attended the unveiling.

“I think they did such a beautiful job,” Parsons said of the placement of his sculpture. “A monumental sculpture like that is just jewelry for buildings, and it seems that building has some pretty nice bling.”

The statue depicts two firefighters charging forward in full gear, one with his hand on the other’s shoulder.

At night, orange and yellow lights will provide a fiery background for the art. About a third of the statue’s $139,000 price tag was covered by donations.

A sculptor since 2000, Parsons said the fire statue project was unique because he once served as a firefighter in the late ’70s before a debilitating injury.

“I’ve seen it from both sides, and I know that these guys work really hard and it’s a pretty thankless job,” he said. “When those guys pull into that fancy new fire station and see this sculpture out there, they’ll realize that’s their community telling them thank you for what they do.”

The city does not currently have any future tours or open houses planned, but once the station is operational by around July 18, members of the public will be able to schedule their own tours by calling 316-788-3773.

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