SOUTH SALT LAKE — Saying it will greatly reduce response time and increase coverage, the South Salt Lake Fire Department dedicated a much-needed new fire station today.

Fire Station No. 42, 3265 S. 900 West, will replace a 46-year-old building several blocks down the street. The new building will be named after former Chief Keith W. Heddleston, who served as the department's top firefighter from 1962 to 1979.

"That's a real thrill," said Donna Heddleston, Keith's widow.

When Heddleston started as chief, South Salt Lake still had a volunteer fire department. In those days, the fire chief and his entire family lived in the fire station.

Heddleston passed away in 1983, but his family, including his widow, were present for Friday's dedication of the new building.

"It's great. It's been a long time coming," said Donna Heddleston.

Heddleston remembered those many years of living in the old station near 2300 South and 900 West as being "hectic," but said, "We liked it."

The new fire station comes with many high-tech and energy-efficient upgrades from the previous structure, said current Chief Steve Foote. But it was purchased at a heavily discounted price thanks to several partnerships.

The land the new station was built on is worth $600,000, Foote said. But Central Valley Water Reclamation, which owns the land, agreed to a 50-year lease in which South Salt Lake will pay $1 a year, Foote said.

In return, the fire department will provide on-site training and inspection to the water reclamation facility.

"It's one of the most aggressive projects in the history of the city," Foote said.

West Valley City also made donations to help make the fire station become a reality. West Valley will also house some of its special operations equipment at the new fire station, including its haz-mat and special rescue equipment, Foote said.

The new fire department is large enough to house that equipment plus South Salt Lake's ladder truck, which doesn't fit in the current fire station.

The building cost $2.8 million to construct, which Foote called a "really good deal." Local businesses furnished the station at discounted prices, he said. And Murray allowed South Salt Lake to use the blueprints for their new fire station, thus cutting design costs, Foote said.

Since old fire station was built, Foote said South Salt Lake had annexed two new areas. The new station will be more strategically located allowing for quicker responses.

E-mail: [email protected]