City looks at cost to retrofit fire station No. 1

OCEANSIDE — City Council approved $48,000 to analyze what it would take to retrofit Fire Station No. 1., the city’s oldest station, on Dec. 16.

All masonry buildings within the city must be retrofit by 2026.

The city building, built in 1929, is a designated historic landmark, and provides essential city services. Both of these factors add to the complexity and cost to retrofit the masonry building.

Because it is a historic building its character cannot be changed. Abraham Chen, city associate engineer and project manager, said retrofit work usually involves metal framing that could be put inside the structure without impacting its look.

As an essential services facility building power, water and sewer must withstand the impact of an earthquake and allow public service to continue following a quake. In addition to its age, preliminary engineering found numerous add-ons to the building, which reduce its soundness.

“In a major disaster we have to perform,” Fire Chief Darryl Hebert said. “If the door malfunctions, we have to have other safety mechanisms built in, a back up generator. There’s a whole bunch of problems that come with the age of the building.”

A ballpark estimate for retrofit work is between $15,000 and $30,000. A structural analysis report, and the cost of work will be presented to City Council by March to determine next steps.

The City Council will also weigh the longevity of continuing fire services at the site.

The size of the building does not fit ladder trucks, which are necessary to service downtown buildings over two stories.

Five years ago a design and drawing was completed for a new downtown fire station on city property a block away from the current station. Estimates at that time were between $8 million and $12 million.

Benefits of a new station would be longevity of service, and ability to house necessary equipment.

“Cost is the biggest thing,” Chen said. “I think the preference for most would be a new station. At this point we’re looking at $10 million (and upwards).”

Hebert will bring forward a plan to enhance firefighting services during February city budget discussions. The plan will address beefing up services to accommodate additional homes and a growing downtown.

“We don’t have any immediate plans to build another fire station, however there is a need for another station,” Hebert said. “With all the mid-rises coming into the downtown area there is a need for a ladder truck to be stationed down here for rescue capabilities.”

“We want to better services, and keep what we’ve got going,” Hebert added.

Fire Station No. 1 is the only city station west of Interstate 5, and one of the city’s busiest stations.

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