The small wood-framed fire station known as Station 3 made its debut in 1948, the year of the Marshall Plan, Gandhi's assassination, and Dewey's famous non-defeat of Truman for the American presidency.
The intervening 67 years have not been kind to the small station near what is now Rinconada Park, with numerous studies finding the structure to be cramped, seismically deficient and in urgent need of renovations.
This week, the City Council took a big step toward this long deferred task when it approved a design contract for replacing the fire station at 799 Embarcadero Road.
By a unanimous vote, the council approved a $599,052 contract with the firm Shah Kawasaki Architects, Inc. for design services associated with the replacement of Station 3. The project was included last year on the City Council's adopted infrastructure plan, which also includes a new public-safety building, a new downtown garage and a bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101.
While the other projects have faced some complications relating to location, funding and in the case of the garage, necessity, the replacement of Station 3 secured the council's approval on the "consent calendar" with no discussion. The city has been discussing the replacement of the fire station for more than a decade.
A 2002 assessment by consultant Biggs Cardosa Associates of Stations 3 and 4 (near Mitchell Park) found "significant seismic deficiencies and potential for instability of soils due to liquefaction," according to a new report from the Public Works Department. The study concluded that replacement of these two stations "may be necessary to meet essential service standards for fire station buildings."
Other, more recent reports, reached similar conclusions. In 2011, the city commissioned a study of fire resources and appointed a citizen commission to evaluate the city's infrastructure needs. Both the commission and the consultant's report flagged the two fire stations as in urgent need of replacement.
The 2011 report titled, "Fire Services Utilization and Resources Study" noted that Stations 3 and 4 are the oldest facilities in the city's system and are "in the worst shape, structure wise." The report recommends that the city "replace or significantly upgrade Stations 3 and 4 at or near their present location" and review all stations to make sure they meet "earthquake resistance standards and future space needs."
The report from the infrastructure panel noted that both Stations 3 and 4 are "earthquake vulnerable, lack sufficient space for emergency supplies, lack safe separation of living quarters from the fumes of engines and hazardous materials, and can barely hold the two engines located at each as those vital pieces of equipment have grown in size and capacity over the years."
Station 3 has only 12 inches of space between the fire engines and the back wall of the apparatus bay, the report noted.
Now, if things go as planned, a new Station 3
will be in place by fall 2018.
Brad Eggleston, assistant director of Public Works, told the council last week that he expects the construction to take about a year and a half. The city hopes to break ground in early 2017, he said. The project is expected to cost about $7.2 million.
The council also plans to launch in 2018 the design process for its next public-safety project: the replacement of Station 4.