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KIRTLAND — Recent renovations to the Valley Fire Department Station 1 here have made life more comfortable for its volunteer firefighters.

The renovations, which total more than $870,000 in cost, are nearly complete, and firefighters returned to the station about two weeks ago. The public can see the changes during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. Tuesday at 4105 U.S. Highway 64.

The front doors to the fire station open into a new meeting and community room.

"This wall right here is the old station," said Donovan Mack, the Valley Fire Department District Chief, as he pointed to a wall at the back of the room.

A set of doors leads into a kitchen area with a wooden table. Several recliners allow firefighters to relax while watching television. Another door leads to the backyard.

The Valley Fire Department has 47 volunteer firefighters, including approximately seven firefighters who transferred in at the beginning of the month when the Navajo Nation took over operations at the Shiprock, Newcomb and Ojo Amarillo fire stations.

Mack said Valley Fire is the busiest of the San Juan County Fire Department districts. This year, it has received more than 1,700 calls, and Mack expects to reach 2,000 calls before the end of the year.

"We're busy," he said. "That's why we need 40 to 50 guys."

The fire station previously had offices upstairs where the volunteers could sleep.

"(Volunteers) would sleep on camping cots," Mack said.

Now the upstairs features four bedrooms, a laundry room and two bathrooms equipped with showers.

"One of the most exciting things for me is to be able to have a place for the guys to sleep," Mack said.

The living quarters house four volunteers during the shift between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The renovated fire station also features a new ladder truck and a new brush truck.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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