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Woodside fire district staff to move to Portola Valley

 

As planning gets underway for construction of a new and up-to-date fire station at 3111 Woodside Road in Woodside, plans to relocate the administrative staff of the Woodside Fire Protection District during the interim are taking shape.

The district is in the process of leasing a single-story 2,700-square-foot office building at 808 Portola Road in Portola Valley, across the road from and kitty-corner to the Town Center, Fire Chief Dan Ghiorso said.

The building would provide space for the district's administrative staff of 10 for up to five years, the chief said. His goal is to make the move before July 1.

Moving into one building would remedy a long-standing situation that has some staff at Fire Station 7 on Woodside Road and others at Fire Station 19 at 4091 Jefferson Ave. in Emerald Hills, he said. "I want my staff all together," the chief said in February.

Relocations

For the first half of the 30-to-36-month construction phase of the new station on Woodside Road in Woodside, the ambulance normally located at Station 7 will be relocated to Station 19, the chief said.

Also relocated to Station 19 will be the battalion chief normally assigned to Station 7. "When we built Station 19, we knowingly added rooms up there for temporary dorms to house part of Station 7 crews for this scenario," the chief said.

The new location would create a delay, but an acceptable delay, in response times for the battalion chief and the ambulance, the chief said. The first responders for medical emergencies are the fire engine crews, with each crew member trained in advanced life support, the chief said.

The engine and crew at Station 7 will stay in the area, either on the station property or at a yet to be determined temporary site. The crew will live in a trailer, the chief said, and the engine will be parked, preferably, under a tent, the chief said.

New station

There are, as yet, no drawings for the new station, the chief said. It will, however, have six drive-through bays -- enough to house an engine, a battalion chief's SUV, a rescue vehicle, an ambulance and two secondary vehicles, such as an all-terrain vehicle, a water tender or a reserve engine. With the current three bays, the ambulance sits outside every night.

Drive-through bays will also eliminate the need for firefighters to be using Woodside Road to position returning fire engines so they can back into the bays.

While it would have been preferable for the new station to accommodate both staff and firefighters, improving living conditions for firefighters at Station 7 came first, the chief said.

Firefighters there now sleep in a dorm, and when an alarm comes in, it wakes them all, not just those on duty. The new station should have space for up to 10 individual rooms, the chief said.

A station that included administrative staff would have required a neighbor to sell an adjoining lot to the district, but there's been no interest on the part of neighbors and the district will not resort to using its powers of eminent domain, the chief said.

Costs for the new station are also unknown for now. The district has $3.5 million set aside, and the Woodside-Portola Valley Fire Protection Foundation has offered to sponsor a capital campaign to solicit donations from district residents, the chief said.

Asked if the new station will be a green building, Chief Ghiorso said that, aside from the possibility of solar panels, it would not. "There's a lot of costs to (building green)," he said. "That's a nice thing to do, but it's not necessarily in everybody's best interests."

"We're going to make this as environmentally and user friendly as we can," he said. "We're going to do what's best for the community."

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