AVRA VALLEY (Tucson News Now) - The Avra Valley Fire District is now seeing the benefits of a bond election that was approved three years ago.
Four district fire stations now serve the Avra Valley community, but it's not the only thing that's helping cut emergency response times.
Avra Valley Fire Captain Patrick Calhoun said a new fleet is helping firefighters tackle their biggest challenge.
"The roads out here, some of them are pretty primitive. A lot of them are dirt roads. Hence the reason why we turned over our whole new fleet, we decided to make sure our engines and ambulances have four-wheel drive capabilities," Calhoun said.
The Avra Valley Fire District is now equipped with three new fire engines and four new ambulances that have four-wheel drive for firefighters who cover rural areas.
Calhoun estimates response times will now be slashed to 3 to 5 minutes and in outlying areas, no more than 10 minutes.
Candi Edwards, owner of Marana Hardware Store in Avra Valley, said this is something her customers would appreciate.
"That's exactly what they need because a road will be paved and all of a sudden there's no pavement so if it's raining and we get really bad storms, which we do, they just set road blocks up," Edwards said.
A bond that was approved in November 2012 is funding the new fleet.
It also paid for a new fire station in Red Rock, which opened in January 2015. The bond has also freed money to rebuild existing fire stations on Anway Road and Amber Sunrise Drive.
"We really, really want to stress we're here to spend that money in a fiscally responsible way," Calhoun said.
A newly renovated station now located on Orange Grove Road near Anway Road, cost about $300,000 - a fraction of what it would typically cost, according to Calhoun.
A Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response gr ant, or "SAFER" gr ant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency amounting to $1.4 million, will help fund additional firefighters at the AVFD in 2016, Calhoun said.
"We're getting faster response times, and we're getting more personnel to emergency scenes to help the sick and injured," Calhoun said.