The Dallas Fire Rescue Department Hazardous Materials Team has recently been relocated to Station 3, located just east of downtown Dallas near Baylor Medical Center. Station 3 is a much larger facility than Station 4, which was used for Hazmat since the teams inception. In addition, the new station has allowed the addition of a paramedic team to the Hazmat response. Dallas' Hazmat team was first put into service in 1988. Station 3, houses HAZMAT 3, Engine 3, Truck 3 and Rescue 3. HAZMAT 3 serves the City of Dallas, an area of approximately 380 square miles with a population of 1,188,580. Through automatic assistance and mutual aide agreements, the team provides HAZMAT response to numerous municipalities surrounding Dallas, increasing their response area significantly.
Station #3 opened its doors to serve East Dallas and the downtown area in May 1963. The four-bay station has housed a variety of apparatus. Perhaps one of the most unique "vehicles" operated from Station #3 was a Cadillac. With its call sign of 899, the Cadillac was in service from February 19, 1964 until March 12, 1973 and was used to transport the Mayor and other dignitaries.
The station was the first in the city to have a female firefighter, Sherrie Wilson, assigned to Emergency Operations on October 20, 1977. Station #3 was first built at 3215 Gaston Avenue. This two-bay, two-story structure, built in 1892, housed the first fire department "shop." The back of the station was used to craft the woodworks, such as furniture, used the fire stations. Baylor University Medical Center later bought that property, and Station #3 moved to its present location.
An interesting "feature" in Station #3 is its "alligator pit." Several years ago, Station #3 firefighters noticed a magazine advertisement selling baby alligators. Not surprisingly, six weeks later a package arrived at Station #3 with an alligator. The firefighters placed the "pet" in the open atrium where they nourished it until it grew to an incompatible size; whereupon, they donated it to the Dallas Zoo. However, the pit remains and its "new" purpose is "inaugurating rookies." The new fire and rescue officers are placed in the pit, the sliding door locked and a hose line run over the roof into the pit. Some stations have mop sinks, others trees. Station #3 has its alligator pit.
The most spectacular fire answered by Station #3 was November 29, 1981. At 2:48 a.m., the speakers opened, announcing a two-alarm fire, 2120 McKinney Avenue, Box 0063. As the engine left the station, firefighters could see the flames twenty blocks away. Before second-alarm companies reached the scene, a third-alarm was called, and Truck 3 responded. A fourth, fifth, and an extra call quickly followed. Two engines, two trucks, and a squad were assigned beyond the five-alarm response. The arson fire resulted in a $571,150 loss to the historic landmark, the former Trinity Methodist Church.