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Citygate has begun work on the Coastside Fire Station Relocation assessment. Citygate’s Stewart Gary is leading the project.

The Coastside Fire Protection District has begun considering whether to replace two aging fire stations and perhaps place them in different locations.

At its regular board meeting on Oct. 23, the board approved a nearly $25,000 contract with Citygate Associates LLC to gather and analyze three years of dispatch data to see where calls originate. The data could then be used as a factor for determining whether the El Granada and Moss Beach fire stations would be relocated, or even if a larger, single fire station would be preferable instead of two new ones.

“The fire district in an average year gets about 2,200 calls,” said Coastside Fire Board of Directors President Gary Burke. “We know the number of calls, but not precisely where they are within the district. The reason for (contracting with Citygate) is that we have two fire stations in El Granada and Moss Beach that are over 50 years old … and we would like to have Citygate data so we can determine where we could locate new fire stations.”

Burke says it’s unlikely that either fire station would remain in their current spots, adding that there is nothing unsafe about these stations. “They’re just old,” said Burke.

“The average life of a fire station is said to be 40 to 50 years, and we’ve well exceeded that,” Burke said. “Like an automobile, you reach a point where trying to maintain and update isn’t cost-effective anymore. That’s what we have reached with those stations.”

The Citygate contract is set to last no more than 45 days, including 30 calendar days for the review itself. The bulk of the fees are to pay for the three-member project team, which includes Citygate Fire Practice principal Stewart Gary, a statistician and a geographic mapping business partner who looks at where and when the emergency calls took place and the driving distance between each station and where the call originated from.

“It’s not a giant long-term project,” Gary said. “Nowadays, computer tools are very straightforward and very powerful. The significant findings will be summarized in the report to help guide their policy decision.”

Gary and his project partners will also visit both stations to “review the current station locations, the risks, road network and topography,” according to the contract proposal.

“I need to drive the coastal road to see the stations,” Gary said. “I want to do more than look at a zoning map; I want to get in my mind the challenges to response.”

Burke says moving the fire stations could be a chance to improve on response times, but says that ensuring that they are kept under seven minutes is critical in considering new station locations since that time is specified in fire district guidelines.

“You look at where all the calls are geographically, where you could site a station, where you could keep these criteria,” Burke said.

Costs are another consideration. Preliminary discussions have begun as to how much a new fire station could cost, with expectations running between $3.5 million to $6 million, though Burke stressed this is an estimate. A dual fire station could save money as well.

“I would like to begin the process of completing a new strategic plan in January, and the key info for that process would be the report from Citygate,” Burke said.

Citygate expects to have its report ready to present to the board by January, so Coastside Fire can have “the best informed conversation as they consider the planning assessment for future fiscal years,” Gary says. But he emphasizes that this is just the first step in what would likely be a lengthy process.

“These are very complicated multimonth, if not multiyear, events,” he said. “It all starts with a good plan.”

View the source article at here: Coastside Fire considers new stations


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