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Menlo Park fire district to rebuild East Palo Alto fire station

District will spend $7.6 million to nearly triple size of East Palo Alto station

A fire station built 56 years ago in East Palo Alto will give way to a modern facility during the next year as the district spends $7.6 million to nearly triple the size of the station at 2290 University Ave.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District kicked off the renovation with a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, March 1, at Fire Station 2. The district serves Atherton, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton, and nearby unincorporated areas.

Plans for the new $7.6 million station include expanding from 4,300-square-feet to 12,000-square-feet to accommodate larger apparatus bays, storage space, crew quarters, and an emergency operations center.

One of the busiest stations, according to the fire district, Fire Station 2 responds to 2,000 to 3,000 calls a year. More than 63 percent of the calls are medical emergencies, while less than 3 percent are fires -- a shift from the type of calls serviced by the station when it was built in 1956, the district said.

The district embarked on a plan to renovate the firehouse about seven years ago, recently purchasing two homes behind the current station at 2290 University Ave. and demolishing them to make room for the new station.

"Prior to making the decision to just rebuild the station, we hired a commercial real estate agent and looked all over the city for a better, cost efficient and strategic location," Chief Harold Schapelhouman said. "We found some great options but at the end of the day we resolved that the station was in a good location and if we purchased the homes behind the station we could build a modern facility at a more reasonable price with no disruption to service to the community,"

Construction should be finished by December 2013, the district said.

"One of our goals during construction is to make sure our contractor employs local residents and that we focus on purchasing U.S. made goods such as steel, windows and doors and solar panels," the district said in a news release.

"We want this to be a Station that will benefit the community, the Fire District, and be something that we can all be proud of; it represents another step towards improvement of the City of East Palo Alto."

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