Fire Station 2, Menlo Park Fire Protection District's busiest station, has been demolished in East Palo Alto and is expected to reopen as a 12,000-square-foot facility by the end of this year, Chief Harold Schapelhouman has announced.
The 4,300-square-foot station, located at 2290 University Ave., was built in 1956 and is one of seven fire stations operated by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. Four of those stations are more than 57 years old and were built in the 1940s or early 1950s. All are in need of revamping, but the East Palo Alto station was selected as the district's highest replacement priority, Schapelhouman said in a statement.
Station 2 is one of the busiest Peninsula fire stations between San Francisco and San Jose, averaging 2,000 to 3,000 responses per year. In recent years, the station was the fire district's busiest station, and East Palo Alto has become the district's most populous city, with an estimated 36,000 to 40,000 residents. The city is also the district's most densely populated jurisdiction, according to Schapelhouman.
"The station project has enjoyed widespread community support," he said. "We want this to be a building that all East Palo Alto residents can be proud of and benefit from. Its importance to this community is critical to our emergency operations and the overall safety of this community."
The district has incrementally worked towards replacing the station for the last nine years. It surveyed the area for a new location, but eventually determined that its current home was both strategic and the most cost-beneficial. The district purchased two residential structures behind the current station for less than $1 million and demolished them to make room for the expanded facility.
In 2009, the district applied for a $5 million federal stimulus grant to offset the cost of construction, but it did not receive the grant, according to the statement. Since the economic downturn, the district has adopted a "phased approach" to the project in order to keep it moving forward and spread out the costs.
The new, modern station will cost an estimated $6 million. It will include larger drive-through apparatus bays, more storage space for apparatus and equipment, a community room, an emergency operations center for the city and enlarged crew quarters to support a potential increase in new personnel and units assigned to the station. The station's service life is pegged at 60 to 70 years, or through the year 2084.
Demolition will be completed by the end of this week. During construction, fire crews for the station are operating out of temporary quarters on the existing lot.
A ground-breaking ceremony for the new station will be held in March.