Fire Station 41 Bay Doors

Coastside Fire Protection District officials say they can’t change the outdoor lighting at the new Station 41 in El Granada without falling out of compliance with fire service standards. Adam Pardee / Review

On Monday, firefighters packed their belongings at the old Station 41 and moved into a new home. The journey was a minute’s drive from their former home-away-from-home at 531 Obispo Road to 555 Obispo Road in El Granada, but it was the end of a long road toward a more modern station.

After six years of planning and construction, Station 41 is the newest facility in the region, and it was designed for 21st century needs.

Fire Station 41 Bay

The open bay area of the new Coastside Fire Station 41 in El Granada on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Adam Pardee / Review

The replacement of the 50-year-old building had been a priority for the Coastside Fire Protection District since a 2000 facilities assessment found the physical structure deteriorating. And as the fire response on the Coastside has grown over the years, the small station could not house all the necessary equipment.

In that time, firefighting technology and ergonomics had also come a long way.

A major asset of the new station is its design for the health and safety of its firefighters. The chemicals used to fight fires can be hazardous. Studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that firefighters are 9 percent more likely to receive a cancer diagnosis and 14 percent more likely to face cancer-related deaths than the general U.S. population.

The chemicals can linger on firefighters’ uniforms if not properly handled. In the case of the old Station 41, the fire engine exhaust would blow into the eating and living quarters.

The new station addresses these concerns. On a tour of the new facility, Deputy Fire Chief Jonathon Cox pointed out several rows of long ventilation tubes hanging down from the ceiling of the large apparatus bay. The dorm-style bedrooms and kitchen are positioned at a safe distance away from the equipment. And there is a second laundry room with a washing machine designed for cleaning the heavy turnout uniforms used on the line of duty.

Fire Station 41 Bunks

One of the multiple bunk areas in the new Coastside Fire Station 41 in El Granada on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Adam Pardee / Review

“It’s all about carcinogen isolation,” Cox said.

Another safety precaution is built into some of the amenities. The kitchen appliances automatically shut off when the dispatch fire alarm goes off, proofing the station against its own fires.

The new station boasts three times more capacity than the now-vacated facility. Whereas the old station could only fit one engine and a ladder truck, the new station can now hold a total of six apparatus. There are at least three times the number of beds. There is a training room. And refueling stations are conveniently positioned at the edge of the property.

The cost for the new station comes just shy of its $13 million budget.

The new site is a 2,425-square-foot, 30-foot-tall building at the corner of Obispo Road and Coronado Street in El Granada. It’s so close to Highway 1 that its green exterior is visible from the intersection turning off the main road. This proximity to the highway avoids potential traffic backup on Obispo Road, which Cox expects will mean faster response times.

Fire Station 41 Kitchen Area

The kitchen and dining area of the new Coastside Fire Station 41 in El Granada on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. Adam Pardee / Review

Despite its size, the station’s staff capacity will remain at its current level of three firefighters per shift with an on-duty captain.

“We have to build for the future and this is built to meet that need,” he said.

The battalion chief who is currently stationed at the fire district’s headquarters on Main Street in Half Moon Bay will transfer to Station 41 because of its central location.

In the coming months, the old station will likely be deemed “surplus” by the district and sold, according to Cox.

A virtual grand opening will be held virtually at 10 a.m. on Nov. 18. It can be viewed live on Twitter @CALFIRECZU and on Facebook.

(14) comments

eatsomefood

I live three houses away from the eucalyptus grove that runs up alongside Coral Reef and continues next to GGNRA land. The bottom line is the trees need to be removed now! I am committed to spending thousands of dollars to remove eucalyptus trees from GGNRA land, but the County trees nearby should be removed out of our property taxes. I pay over $15,000 a year in property taxes and the County employees I spoke with don't even know which trees and County and which are GGNRA. Meanwhile time is passing and the fire danger is increasing. I would like to see defensible space near our houses and the replacement of the eucalyptus trees farther away with native trees like live oak. I would like Supervisor Horsely to respond to this post. The buck has to stop somewhere.

Cid Young

@EATSOMEFOOD - I BELIEVE THE CABRILLO UNIFID SCHOOL DISTRICT OWNS THDE GROVE OF EUCALYPTUS THAT YOU ARE SPEAKING OF, AND THEY ARE MORE BROKE THAN HALF MOON BAY!

Cid Young

The Menlo Park FireFighters must have a sweet deal if their District buys them homes! When the Coastside Fire Protection District had that Union, do you recall the Scams? They would call in sick if scheduled for Ambulance Duty, then their replacement would get OT pay. Of course, when the replacement's turn came to be on Ambulance Duty, they too mysteriously called in sick so their replacement could also reap the benefits of OverTime pay. I also remember that someone anonymously pee'd in Chief Cole's sleeping bag when the UNION fight started up. The fact that they have more beds than the on-duty fire-fighters will currently need doesn't bother me. John, are you suggesting that we should raise staffing levels to fill beds rather than to staff to current anticipated emergencies? That's crazy. And what do you mean by "Spiffy Evacuation Plan" ... THERE IS NO PLAN!!!! Even with focus on the recent CZU Lightning Strike Fires, (or the recent fires in Paradise, Santa Rosa and beyond in the past years) The City of Half Moon Bay updated their Land Use Plan with absolutely NO provision regarding Emergency Evacuations, despite the increased traffic, the current weekend #hmbgridlock (which is now customary on weekdays too, during Covid) and said that we will have to "Evacuate in Place". I kid you not! Everytime I try to find out if any Public Entity is worki g on a "global" Emergency Evacuation Plan everyone finger-points to other agencies, or in the case of HMB City Council, they negligently kicked that can further down the road. The only person who has followed up on the proposed timeline was Deputy Chief Cox of CalFire who was tasked with creating and launching ZONE HAVEN. I spoke to him, back in January, when the Connect the Coastside "Comprehensive Traffic Management Plan" Draft came out from San Mateo County and I noticed they had not addressed Emergency Evacuation for the Coastside. At that time he said it would be ready by November 202, and to his credit, it was! I have also approached the Emergency Services Council, SMC OES, The MCC, but so far NADA. CalTrans wants to install EMS system "electronic digital signs" despite the need to remove the known Evacuation choke points on Hwy One and Hwy 92 where the road is bordered by Eucalyptus and other flammable brush which could be in flames in the case of a wildland fire. Instead of griping about the expenditure for a FireStation, why don't you help me discover what Local Agencies are doing for a Coastside Emergency Evacuation Plan. Everyone will likely give you the same response. They ALL know we'll be trapped like those people trying to flee the Paradise fire, yet they do nothing, or pay lip service to "Shelter in Place" as a way of placating us. John, you are so good at PRA requests, I beseech you to inquire what meetings they have had, and what action plans are in place for "Emergency Evacuation" for the residents of the Coastside. Here are the players: CalTrans, CHP, SMC SHERIFF'S DEPT., SMC OES, SMC PLANNING DEPARTMENT, SMC BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, CAL FIRE & THE EMERGENCY SERVICES COUNCIL. Perhaps ABAG miggt be a good place to start. Here is their mission statement: To strengthen cooperation and collaboration across local governments to build healthier stronger communities". They are part regional planning agency and part local government service provider. Hmmmm.

John Charles Ullom

Cid. I am not suggesting we raise staff levels. We have too many firefighters already. I am saying that nobody on the Coastside will support tripling the need for firefighters. I don't get why we needed to spend millions to build capacity we ALL will fight tooth and nail never to need. See the opposition to Big Wave.

We all know that the Coastside needs housing opportunities for people who are challenged. But what are the two objections to Big Wave? One is the Tsunami! The other is capacity. We need the housing, there are people who SAY they want to build it. And we already have a fire station up there that can handle three times the load. Why not build out the infrastructure so that Big Wave and the other property owners can develop their property?

There is no evacuation plan because nobody wants to take it on. One of the reasons we are trapped here is , now get ready for this, the tunnel. If the freeway bypass had been created, would there not be a far better evacuation route for mid coast residents? But I digress. That one is a different can of worms.

There are three scenarios that we would need to mass evacuate. Tsunami, in which case there goes your fire station. Eucalyptus forest fires. Invasion.

Since the Tsunami is not a concern for those who wanted the new fire station to be placed in the Tsunami zone, I don't think it is a concern when to comes to Big Wave. Invasion prevention is a Federal responsibility.

The new station does not address a single current need other than the old station was at the end of its useful life. All those fire dangers you mention are not mitigated one iota. We spent 13 million for a station that will never be fully utilized. Yet the people in charge of Coastside safety don't see it as their role to create an evacuation plan that we need TODAY. Those Eucalyptus trees are getting more dangerous and could easily burn down El Granada TODAY. But the CFPD cares more about spending OPM building three times the capacity then using OPM to deal with demonstrably real threats we are exposed to, TODAY.

How about this. How about our fire department, which rarely puts out fires, take the lead on devising an evacuation plan and mitigating the danger from Eucalyptus trees? The CFPD has lots of money. Their job is to protect us from foreseeable danger. The CFPD is the logical agency to be incharge of this kind of planning. They are local. They technically should be responsive to local realities. So why is there no evacuation plan or Eucalyptus tree removal plan?

Because like every other agency, the CFPD prefers somebody else do that work. There is no glory to be had. Nobody is going to name an evacuation plan after Gary Burke or anybody else. Cutting down Eucalyptus forests will undoubtedly be controversial. And the work would be contracted out. No benefit for public employees in that.

Instead, they chose the most expensive options, (just like HMB did with the library), and built themselves something they can brag about. You and I used to mock Mike Alifano for wanting to install bells on fire engines. Vanity is what we called that.

Gary Burke and his posse are three times as arrogant and vain as Riddle, Macintosh, or Alifano ever were. They accuse folks of endangering lives with delays when it suits them. Then they slow roll the builds to save money. They build monuments to themselves instead of dealing with real risks we have TODAY. And when El Granada burns, which it will someday, men like Gary Burke, the person most incharge of our safety, will quickly point the finger of blame at others.

No need for a PRA Cid. We need the people who we pay to protect us to do their job and create that plan and mitigate known fire dangers. The CFPD is spending tax dollars, unwisely. But I must admit, Station # 40 is the most handsome fire station in all the land of California. We paid for the bragging rights. Let's brag: -- https://www.fireapparatusmagazine.com/2020/11/18/el-granada-ca-opens-new-fire-station/#gref

Vince

I've been away from CFPD dealings for years. However, I see many serious inaccuracies in the Cid Young Nov 20, 2020 10:31am and John Charles Ullom Nov 20, 2020 1:09pm posts. I'm not up to writing 10,000 words to correct them.

There are many agencies involved in emergency planning on the Coastside with different statutory mandates, jurisdictions and many big liability issues. It's a complex process and not all of it can be done in a publicly transparent fashion.

I would suggest NOT PANICKING, yourself or others. Contact the professionals at CFPD and SMC Sheriff's Department about emergency planning and how to evacuate.

Cid Young

Hey, Vince! Check this doc out: https://planning.smcgov.org/sites/planning.smcgov.org/files/Connect%20the%20Coastside%20Public%20Draft%201-15-20_0.pdf

Cid Young

I for one, am incredibly happy that the MidCoast has a new Fire Station facility. We usually get the left-over crumbs, as anyone can see at-a-glance when it comes to the three existing Fire Stations (or three Elementary School for that matter, Kings Mountain, Farallone View and El Granada.) THIS time the voters spoke, and the entire District was able to KEEP CAL FIRE, and the Millions of Dollars in district savings went to an investment for our futures, WITHOUT RAISING TAXES, and MORTGAGE FREE! I sure wish we could say that for the CUSD Budget, because at every turn they have their hand out for more money. (Mr. Burke for School Superintendent! Do not worry Gary, I am just kidding!)

The increased tourist traffic alone creates more cliff rescues, and Station 41 is closer than Station 40 by 7 miles and GOD KNOWS how many response minutes on a crowded #hmbgridlock weekend. Nearby Quarry Park is a tinderbox of Eucalyptus that, on a windy weekend, could burn down many homes in El Granada, were it to catch fire. Now, there will be a fully equipped station of trained firefighters to put out a wildland blaze in the hills. I feel blessed that for once we get to have something nice, something new to boast about.

And, tonight, the MCC Meeting had Cal Fire Deputy Chief Cox on their Agenda explaining the new ZONEHAVEN, an Emergency Evacuation by Zone alert system model he has been working on since early January. He said it would be ready for public roll-out, by November, and true to his word, it was! You should check it out: http:myzone.Zonehaven.com

One thing: It works off SMC ALERT so if you are not signed up, you will not get notified so DO IT TODAY!

www.SMCALERT.info

John Charles Ullom

Do you think the District will ever need three times the amount of crews and apparatus anytime soon? Will you welcome the development that will be required to maximize the potential of a station meant for three times as many fire fighters as we now have? Does the new station and the spiffy evacuation plan flip the script on opposition to Big Wave? No more safety concerns now that we have three times more capacity than we use. Right?

"Now, there will be a fully equipped station of trained firefighters to put out a wildland blaze in the hills."

There already is. No new fire fighting capabilities because of the new station. Not one new fire fighter or piece of apparatus. Nobody is safer than they were before the station was built.

Well, at least mid coasters have something to be proud of. Just like us lucky folks in HMB can be proud of the library that is three times bigger than the one we had. Too bad we couldn't make the payment we owe on it this year but hey, some other city council 10 years from now will have to deal with it.

Oh heck, just give up. We need three times the library and three times the sewage, and three times the fire stations and three times the water and three times the highway capacity and three times as many cops, and three times as many public employees and three times as many classrooms, and three times as many of everything we have just so we can be ready....for what? Three times as many locals? Three times as many visitors?

And is that fire station really big enough? Would we all not be served better if they built two more just like it? And what about that dump we have at the end of Main Street? Is that building good enough? Is the fire training apparatus, AKA tower, tall enough? Do we need three times as many of those too? Can we afford a helicopter?

Yes we can!! Folks a nice Sikorsky S-76+ goes for less the 7 Million dollars! We could get two of them. Imagine the boasting we could do? Or better yet, lets buy a flying water tanker. We could buy a few of them for 13 million. Sure, they wouldn't exactly be state of the art jets but imagine the improved response time should El Granada catch on fire.

Yep. Three times bigger. Now we can develop the midcoast because we now have three times the capacity! What? You didn't think increasing the ability of property developers to cash in isn't part of the plan? Got to put the infrastructure in place folks. And they are doing it.

Vince

Fortunately, John Charles Ullom and “Coastside” aren’t doing regional planning or fire planning...

Big Wave as a project was approved by the SMC Planning, SMC BOS and CCC. If it doesn't get built to meet the developer's, investor's profitability goals and SMC BOS tax revenue expectations, then expect lawsuits against SMC(taxpayer dollars), that will at least equal the shortfall. Remember Beachwood? Big Wave as a local cause will most likely live on in infamy as did the Beach House and Ghost Mall. But, pragmatically what leverage do the Coastside locals or local Coastside government agencies practically have to stop the project or downsize it? CFPD under the CA Health and Safety Codes has to plan for future requirements. The CFPD Board and CalFire Management don't have a choice in the matter. I don't want to give the impression Station 41 design is all about the Big Wave project. Big Wave is just one of many future requirements in the District.

The world is changing. While Trump has taken a four year vacation from global climate change, the world and California haven't. More low humidity days in a row on the Coastside. A large fuel load in the neighboring wildlands. Look around and compare the upper reaches of El Granada and Montara to the Oakland Hills, before the 1991 conflagration. What's SMC doing to mitigate the tree and shrub fire fuel load? What can residents practically do to affordably mitigate the fuel load risks SMC says are their responsibility? Why are insurance companies refusing to renew home insurance policies on the Coastside? Look at the wildland fires in Malibu that burned right down to the clay bluffs and sand on the beach.

There is a real threat to Coastside residents ability to continue to live in their homes on the Coastside. Look at other burned out California communities, deaths, residents displaced for years, years to rebuild and a majority of the former residents permanently relocated elsewhere.

For many years, the HMB Station 40 was refered to derisively by some as the Taj Mahal, implying it was overbuilt. Now, John Charles Ullom calls it "dump we have at the end of Main Street", presumably because the fire training structure was added to it and the brick facade the HMB Mayor insisted on wasn't aesthetically pleasing enough. But, Station 40 has found critical uses over the decades. CalFire staged a water tender at Station 40, that responded to the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, where hydrant pressure and access failed. CalFire has staged wildlands fire fighting equipment at Station 40, that responded to local wildland fires, that fortunately were stopped before reaching the Coastside.

A partnership has been formed between the Coastside community and CalFire that needs to be nurtured. More members of the community are involved in the CERT program and the training room in the new Station 41 will be utilized for that. Supplying the infrastructure and equipment to the CalFire Professionals, HMB Fire Volunteers and CERT Volunteers is essential to preserving the safety and possibly the survival of the community.

John Charles Ullom

"Look around and compare the upper reaches of El Granada and Montara to the Oakland Hills, before the 1991 conflagration. What's SMC doing to mitigate the tree and shrub fire fuel load?"

Yep. Those Eucalyptus trees are huge threat. Especially in El Granada. Maybe a 7 million dollar station would have left some money to be used for fire mitigation. Instead we have a 13 million dollar building that will only be 1/3 full.

"There is a real threat to Coastside residents ability to continue to live in their homes on the Coastside."

Yes. And that threat is primarily economic. Years from now, when the children of Coastsiders start seeing all the money they'll be paying for services WE currently use, they'll move East and leave the mess we are creating for somebody else to pay for.

"Now, John Charles Ullom calls it "dump we have at the end of Main Street", presumably because the fire training structure was added to it and the brick facade the HMB Mayor insisted on wasn't aesthetically pleasing enough. "

Nope. Talking about the pile of wrecked cars they have there. Don't imagine they'll be doing that at the new station.

"CalFire has staged wildlands fire fighting equipment at Station 40, that responded to local wildland fires, that fortunately were stopped before reaching the Coastside."

They parked the equipment in the lot.

"A partnership has been formed between the Coastside community and CalFire that needs to be nurtured."

What? They need more money? Why not do as they do in Menlo Park and buy houses for the firefighters to live in? How much do we owe these people? Is there a limit?

For half the cost of Gary's monument, we could have removed one heck of a lot of Eucalyptus Trees and meaningfully reduced the risk we are living with TODAY. The new station has not made anybody safer.

John Charles Ullom

"Despite its size, the station’s staff capacity will remain at its current level of three firefighters per shift with an on-duty captain."

Wow. Folks, think about this. Thirteen Million to build a station three times bigger but no plans to increase staffing.

Three times as many beds but no more staff. This monument to Gary Burke's ego is a huge waste. We have homeless people. We have school teachers who can barely survive. We have a society that cares little about anybody who isn't a property owner. We send cops with guns to deal with mentally ill people instead of properly trained professionals.

And we now have a brand new Fire station three times bigger than we currently need. It is built to accommodate a future that envisions...what? Three times as many citizens and business than we have now? Really? Does anybody see that happening?

Why not rent out some of those extra beds to organizations that serve homeless people? Mr Burke? Are you down with that? I doubt it. When they name the station after you, you won't want it to be associated with such people.

We should all be outraged. Thirteen million dollars. Was this really the best way to spend that money? The Coastside Fire Department receives way too much of our money. The Taj Mahal Gary built is proof of that. We need to reallocate the funds to our schools.

Thirteen Million dollars! That's like almost real money!!

Vince

Yeah $13M.

The new Station 41 is designed for a fifty year lifetime. The old Station 41 functioned for more than fifty years. Consider what the traffic will be like on Cabrillo in fifty years. Will Coastsiders under the influence be able to handle SMC roundabouts? Will Cabrillo Highway be retreated from Surfer's Beach in fifty years? Four story high-rises on Princeton marshes? Putting out electrical vehicle fires and cleaning up the toxic spills?

Since HMBFPD and PMFPD consolidated into CFPD, the emphasis has been serving the WHOLE District without raising taxes anywhere in the District. The charter of the District is Fire Protection and Emergency Services under the California Health and Safety Codes, not John Charles Ullom's incompatible priorities.

The Midcoast is now more than a 'burb of HMB. The requirements and threats to public safety have shifted over the decades and will continue to shift over the next fifty years. It's a matter of getting the emergency response resources to a fire or emergency within the response time. It's not just Firefighters and Paramedics, it's also the right apparatus and equipment for a particular emergency(medical emergency, vehicle crash, fire, rescue, airport, harbor, cliff rescue...).

According to the article, the Coastside Battalion Chief is going to be basing out of the new Station 41, no longer Station 40. The new Station 41 is now the central station in the District and is capable of hosting more than a single engine company and ladder truck.

Consider also that approximately $2M of the $13M was for approval delays. First for which Coastside political entity controls the CFPD Board and where a new fire station goes, then another year plus for the addressing the concern of a once per 500 year tsunami event getting the new station driveway apron wet. That's the local tax of Coastside politics.

Congratulations to the CFPD Board and CalFire for completing this important project for the Coastside, without hitting the community up for more taxes. It's also a testament to what is possible in Coastside regional governance.

Coastside

A little traffic and parking engineering would cut down the need for emergency services. We need to reconsider the need for brand new large buildings. I remember when the old building was new. I'd ride by on my sting-ray bike. There was a firefighter that would mow that little patch of lawn with surgical precision, perfect posture, perfect hair, slender with a crew cut and a big smile. He must have been out there twice a week.

Vince

Coastside wrote:

"A little traffic and parking engineering would cut down the need for emergency services."

Roughly 80% of the calls are medical emergencies. A little human engineering as far as better diet and exercise, substance abuse cessation, curbing driving under the influence, drowning, falling off cliffs, boating accidents, swimming mishaps, surfing mishaps, aircraft accidents...

The whole Coastside is cooked as far as traffic planning. CalTrans and SMC are mitigating going from D to F graded traffic flows. The Coastside job housing imbalance is a failure in community planning. The Midcoast residents and local government agencies are politically powerless to change their local planning. CFPD like many other local agencies is the tail on the dog. CFPD still has to meet response times as the traffic gets worse.

Coastside wrote:

"We need to reconsider the need for brand new large buildings."

Not really the community's call. SMC BOS has already approved four story live work buildings for Princeton. Maybe they will wind up being harbor view live work condo's by the time they actually get built. No Midcoast government agency can do anything about it. The CFPD Board doesn't have any legal control or choice as far as providing fire and emergency services to those SMC and CCC approved multistory buildings and their occupants, under the California Health and Safety Codes.

With global climate change, when the El Granada and Montara Blue Gum Eucalyptus and beetle fungus dying pines fire hazards have multiple days of low humidity and are declared red flag fire danger, where are the extra Firefighters going to be staged? Communities that provide the resources, get the emergency resource staging from outside agencies.

"I remember when the old building was new. I'd ride by on my sting-ray bike. There was a firefighter that would mow that little patch of lawn with surgical precision, perfect posture, perfect hair, slender with a crew cut and a big smile. He must have been out there twice a week."

Make the Coastside Great Again. Eight years ago there was a referendum on this and two thirds of the LOCAL voters voted to move CFPD forward and recalled three Directors that wanted to go back to the not so good old days.

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