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.
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.
“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.
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.