Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Busy station to get makeover


The busiest fire station in Santa Barbara is about to get an extreme makeover and a little more funding to help run the facility.
The Santa Barbara City Council voted unanimously yesterday to increase funding and proceed with final design plans for the renovation of Fire Station No. 1.
The station does not meet current seismic codes and is in danger of collapsing in a major earthquake, city staff said. Also, there is a lack of adequate space to accommodate the fire crew and office staff.

“The one building that has to be left standing in an earthquake is the fire department,” Mayor Marty Blum said.
Located at 121 W. Carrillo St., the station hasn’t been modified since 1959, and has been in continuous use for the past 47 years, city officials said. Employees have witnessed metal supports in the fire engine bays vibrating violently during moderate seismic events.
Councilmember Das Williams agreed with Mayor Blum, saying, “This is one of our most vital buildings in the case of an emergency.”
The Council approved increasing the funding for the project by $1.26 million from Redevelopment Agency contingency funds, bringing the total cost of the renovations to more than $5 million.
Councilmember Brian Barnwell suggested using city reserves to fund portions of the project.
“If there is any use of reserve money that is worth dipping into, it may be this,” Councilmember Barnwell said. “...At some point, you have to say to yourself, what am I saving this money for?”
Councilmember Iya Falcone agreed, adding, “Having all the money in the world after a disaster won’t help if we don’t have a standing fire station.”
Fire Station No. 1 responds to more than one-third of all fire and medical emergencies in Santa Barbara, city staff said. It houses administration, fire prevention, public education staff, as well the Office of Emergency Services and Wildland Fire and Training Divisions, not to mention the primary fire crew.
In addition to seismic renovations, the building needs about 5,000 additional square feet to accommodate its personnel, city staff said. Although the fire station will remain in operation during the renovations, all non-shift personnel in the building will need to lease office space elsewhere.
Once construction is complete, only seven staff members out of 24 will have room to move back, and the remaining personnel will have to continue to lease space until a permanent office solution is funded. Renovating a nearby city-owned building is an option, staff said, but would increase project costs by about $4 million.
City staff hope to complete the final design phase of the project and open it to construction bids by the end of the year.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for a interesting and timely article--however, for those of us who don't know, could you please identify the street address where Station 1 is located? I, for one, only know where Station 4 is located since this is in my direct neigherhood. Thank you!

Santa Barbara Daily Sound said...

Station No. 1 is located at 121 W. Carrillo St. (paragraph 4 of article), near the corner of Chapala and Carrillo streets.