WACO, TX — If you live in Waco's Kendrick neighborhood, you should feel just a little safer these days.
The city's newest fire station opened there this weekend, a station designed to run on a minimum staff.
But now, thanks to a federal grant, Fire Station 5 will have a full complement of firefighters, putting South Waco in a position for further growth.
United States Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, arrived at Waco's brand new fire station 5 this weekend, with a gift. A flag flown over the Capitol.
It makes a fitting start for this station, serving the fastest-growing part of town.
"There was a study done, back in 2015, of where our future fire station would be located. and we found this area . It really covers the South area of Waco," said Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum.
With a diverse mix of industrial, retail, and residential here, this station has a lot to protect.
"What we look at, what are ideal response times," Tatum explained. The goal? 4 minutes.
It's one reason Waco leaders carved out more than a quarter of their budget for public safety.
"Those investments have created and supported a strong police department and strong fire department," said Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver.
Now, the Federal government has chipped in, through the so-called "SAFER" grants. Waco will get more than 8-hundred thousand dollars.
"To help add additional firemen so they could have fully, have full compliments of 4 people for a truck to answer a call, that's the national standard," said Senator Cornyn, R-Texas.
So station 5 starts off with a full staff, supporting more reasons for more people to become Texans.
"Part of it is public safety, and the quality of life. And that also is what encourages investment and job creation," explained the Senator.
One job that will change, that of fire chief Bobby Tatum, who after 31 years in Fort Worth, and several more leading Waco, will retire on New Year's eve.
"Really it's been an honor serving the citizens of Waco, and the fire department. We've had a lot of great achievements and really have, just a great fire department," said Chief Tatum.
A department that keeps this fast-growing city... SAFER.