The Menlo Park Fire Protection District kicked off the renovation with a groundbreaking ceremony at Fire Station 2 on March 1. The district serves Atherton, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Atherton, and nearby unincorporated areas.
Plans for the new 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. The added space will let the district add ladder trucks and rescue squads, according to staff, and also leave room for future expansion.
One of the busiest stations, according to the fire district, Fire Station 2 responds to 2,000 to 3,000 calls a year. Last year call density on the east side of the district's territory increased.
More than 63 percent of the calls are medical emergencies, while less than 3 percent are fires — a massive shift from the type of calls handled by the station when it was built in 1956, the district said. Statistics showed that during its first year of operation, fire alarms accounted for 54 percent of service calls. By 1985, that had dropped to 10 percent.
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."
Chief Schapelhouman also addressed rumors that he wants to close stations 1 and 5 and consolidate the two into a single station in Flood Park.
"There's no such plan," he said in an email. Should station 1 need to move, the park may be one option, but there's no current intent to do so.
"The community has my commitment as the Fire Chief that any future decisions that we may make will be carefully researched, publicly reviewed by the Fire Board and allow for community input and eventually be precisely executed so that it will be a benefit to emergency response for the entire community."