The Santa Maria Fire Department announced Thursday that it will begin providing the community with five full-time fire stations on Monday.

This milestone will immediately result in faster emergency response times and better service to the northeast area of the city, fulfilling a long-standing objective.

Fire Station No. 5 was planned many years ago to help diffuse the high call volume in the northern area of the city that was handled by Fire Station No. 3. More than one-third of the Fire Department’s 9,000 annual emergency calls originate in this section of the community, so having two full-service (24 hours a day) fire stations to share the work is a significant improvement for surrounding neighborhoods.

Fire Chief Dan Orr said the Fire Station No. 5 will help his department respond to emergencies within five minutes or less 90 percent of the time — a huge jump from the current level of 58 percent.

Fire Station No. 5 has been operating at night only since it opened Sept. 8, due to budget reductions. That staffing was achieved by having Fire Station No. 4’s crew operate out of Fire Station No. 4 during the day then move to Fire Station No. 5 at night.

Nine newly hired firefighters will complete their eight-week fire academy on Friday, becoming familiarized with the equipment and procedures of the Santa Maria Fire Department. On Monday, they will begin assignments at specific fire stations, working side-by-side with veteran crew members.

Construction of Fire Station No. 5, at 1670 E. Donovan Road, was made possible through one-time Federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding.

The second goal of staffing the station 24 hours a day, seven days a week was made possible through a combination of a one-time federal grant that pays for firefighters for two years, and voter passage of Measure U in June, which will pay for firefighters for seven years.

— Daniel Orr is chief of the Santa Maria Fire Department.