The mayor on Saturday dedicated the new Fire Station 10 in Pioneer Square, a new fire-alarm and emergency-operations center and the first Seattle fire station built in 33 years.

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When Mayor Greg Nickels was first elected eight months after the Nisqually earthquake, he asked how prepared the city was for a natural disaster.

Nickels was told that, in a major earthquake, two-thirds of the city’s 32 fire stations would be lost.

The mayor on Saturday dedicated the new Fire Station 10 in Pioneer Square, a new fire-alarm and emergency-operations center and the first Seattle fire station built in 33 years.

Nickels said he went to Seattle sister city of Kobe, Japan, after that nation’s devastating 1995 earthquake, where 6,000 people died and the water system was shut down. “I got a great lesson of what went wrong,” he said.

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The 60,000-square-foot complex on South Washington Street is the largest project in the fire-emergency levy passed by voters in 2003. It is the first levy-funded station to open, at a cost of $44.3 million.

In 2003, Seattle voters passed the $167 million levy to upgrade fire stations and improve emergency response throughout the city. Nickels said, with the money, all fire stations will be upgraded to survive an earthquake.

The new station will house the city’s emergency-response technology and house 60 firefighters. It also houses the hazardous-materials-response unit and crews who respond to fire and medic calls in Pioneer Square and the International District.

The old Fire Station 10, built in 1928, will remain open because it houses the department’s headquarters staff.

The new center has a 911 backup system that allows firefighters to keep taking emergency calls in the event of a telephone failure. At the old emergency center, in Belltown Fire Station 2, staff had to leave the building and go to a backup facility if phones failed.

“We can’t stop the next earthquake or storm from striking Seattle, but we can be prepared to save lives, protect property and pull ourselves up after a disaster,” Nickels said.

In addition to building the new Fire Station 10, the levy added two new fireboats: the Leschi, delivered last year, and the smaller fire and rescue boat, Engine 1, that went into service in 2006.

The levy also created a new training facility for firefighters that opened last year, provided an emergency water supply for fighting fires by allowing firefighters to draw water directly from reservoirs if needed, puts emergency supply caches at four locations around the city and installed emergency generators at six community centers.

A new consolidated 911 dispatch center is also being built for the Eastside. Called the Northeast King County Regional Public Safety Communications Initiative, it is scheduled to open in July 2009. That center will bring the emergency calls of 14 cities and agencies under one roof for the first time.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054