Queen Creek rang in 2008 with the start of its own fire department.
A few months in the making, Queen Creek’s historic start to the new year began with dropping Rural/Metro Fire Department as its fire service provider and venturing out on its own with help from the Gilbert Fire Department.
Since Tuesday, Gilbert’s firefighters have been covering for the town’s 17 firefighters while they complete training at the Chandler Fire Department Training Center.
“It’s been remarkably smooth with a real seamless transition, and that’s what we want to achieve,” Town Manager John Kross said.
On its first day, the Queen Creek Fire Department received nine calls that were covered by Gilbert’s fire department. Queen Creek’s first firefighters will begin answering service calls Jan. 12, after 10 days of training.
“They already have all their necessary certifications,” Kross said. “We’re getting extremely high-quality personnel.”
Queen Creek’s new fire chief, Van Summers, officially started Wednesday, though Kross said Summers has been working before that date.
And 11 more firefighters will be sworn in at the Town Council meeting Jan. 16.
Those firefighters will work out of the town’s second fire station at Sossaman and Cloud roads. Town officials said they expect a temporary building to be up and working by the first week of February.
“The critical thing is increasing the level of service to residents, and we’re doing that right away,” Kross said. “We’re trying to deliver on that.”
Kross said the town’s first firefighters and fire chief are part of a “legacy experience.”
“This doesn’t happen very often, and when it does, it’s special,” he said. “There’s a lot to do and a lot already done.”
Queen Creek opted to start a municipal fire department so the town could have mutual aid, something not available had the town contracted with Rural/Metro. The mutual aid system requires fire departments to respond to emergencies in neighboring communities when needed.