Construction on Hesperia's fifth fire station began in earnest Tuesday morning.

Firefighters, dignitaries and construction workers converged on a 3.5-acre lot on Caliente Road, west of Interstate 15, the future site of San Bernardino County Fire Station 305.

The new fire station will be the city's first since Station 304 at Eucalyptus Street and 11th Avenue was built in 1991, and the first built in cooperation with San Bernardino County.

"We've got a great relationship with the county fire department," said Leonard, himself a retired city and county firefighter. "I see great things in our future."

Both the city and county benefit from the new jointly built station, as its future coverage area will include both Hesperia and Oak Hills (which is the county's jurisdiction).

"Our current station in Oak Hills is inadequate; it needs to be replaced," said San Bernardino County Fire Department Division Chief Dan Wurl. "This station is going to be one that supports the troops out there, doing the job we ask them to do."

Money for the project was in question at one point: Before leaving office as First District Supervisor in late 2006, Assessor Bill Postmus proposed using $2.8 million intended for Station 305 to refurbish the assessor's San Bernardino office. In the uproar after the proposal became public, supervisors yanked the proposal off their agenda before it ever came to a vote.

In addition to local dignitaries and fire officials, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-41), Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R-59) and First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt were also on hand to mark the occasion.

"All of us know, as we see the fires raging this very day," Lewis said, "The challenges ahead. ... We know that we're all in this together."

Lewis said building new stations in Southern California was especially important as the region is gripped by "a drought that seems to go on forever."

"This is exactly what leadership is," Adams said. "It's putting aside personal interests in the pursuit of common goals."

"When a fire truck shows up to your home," Mitzelfelt said, "It doesn't really matter what the logo on the side of it says."

The 18,478 square foot station has a price tag of $6.4 million and should be completed in a year.

Hesperia's first fire station, Station 301, will also be remodeled this fiscal year, Leonard said.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.