Excerpts from theChicagoTribune.com:

On Saturday, residents joined firefighters from the Pingree Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District at an open house to celebrate its new, state-of-the-art facility at 1600 Reinking Road. The 12,700-square-foot fire station cost $3.7 million. It has a lobby that is open 24 hours a day; a community room that can be reserved by residents and non-profit organizations; a decontamination space; a house tower; a fitness facility; a kitchen; a rec room; and sleeping quarters.

“We wanted to let the community know that we are here,” said Lieutenant Scott Fehrman, a 33-year veteran of the district.

The Pingree Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District services unincorporated Kane County, an area less than 50 square miles that includes: Plato Township and parts of Rutland, Campton and Elgin Townships, Fehrman said. The new station will replace Fire House #2 at Route 20 and Reinking Road, an outdated, more than half a century’s old facility that only held vehicles. Originally run by volunteer firefighters, it didn’t have a kitchen or place to sleep.

It became even more evident a new station was needed when call volume began to increase with the 2005 opening of the Cambridge Lakes Subdivision and, two years later, Carillon, a gated retirement community, Fehrman said.

About 10 years ago, the fire district began setting aside money each year for the new facility, Trustee Todd Harris said, noting that it’s fully paid for now.

Fire Station #3 will offer residents CPR classes, free blood pressure screenings, and, for citizens with medical conditions or the inability to reach the front door quickly, the Knox Box Rapid Entry System, Fehrman said. Attached to homes, the secure black boxes contain house keys and medical information, and allow firefighters to gain entrance into residences quickly, without damaging property. The boxes can only be accessed by firefighters with a master key.

Looking back on the district’s history, Harris said that in 1936, the area was served by a volunteer fire department. Firefighters received calls at home and stopped by the station for equipment, taking from 8 to 15 minutes to arrive at the scene. He said the Pingree Grove and Countryside Fire Protection District wasn’t founded until 1957, with ambulance service added in 1975. Today, the district operates two fire stations — the new one and an existing location at Plank Road and Route 20 — each staffed with three firefighter EMTs, Fehrman said. Unlike the old days, he said firefighters can arrive at the scene within minutes.

thanks Dan