ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- After more than 15 years of planning, the new Pantops fire station is finally becoming a reality.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday morning to mark the start of construction.
Firefighters say the project is a big deal for the area because there are a lot of people who live on Pantops, and there's no sign of growth slowing down.
It will also help get response times down, which currently do not meet Albemarle Fire & Rescue's goal of five minutes.
Currently, most of calls on Pantops are handled by surrounding agencies, mostly by the East Rivanna Fire Company in Keswick.
Firefighters say Pantops has a high volume of calls and most of the come from people who live in assisted living facilities.
More than one quarter of the population in the area is over the age of 65.
Firefighters say they have been concerned about protection in the area for a long time, and are glad to see this project finally happening.
"We've been planning for this day for a long time," said Dan Eggleston, Albemarle Fire & Rescue chief. "Really, because of the potential growth and the existing growth that we have here on Pantops."
County supervisors also attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
Supervisor Norman Dill says this project has been in the making well before he was even on the board, and this has been a long time coming.
"It's not that there hasn't been any coverage, but as it gets more crowded they can't get through the traffic," said Dill.
When Station 16 is complete, it will consist of both career and volunteer staff.
Construction is scheduled to be complete by March 2018.