The San Mateo County Fire Department marked the opening of the new Fire Station 58, serving Kings Mountain, La Honda, upper Woodside and Skyline Boulevard earlier this month.
The California Department of Forestry (Cal Fire) provides services for these areas through Station 58 under a contract with San Mateo County.
The new station, located on Skyline Boulevard adjacent to Alice’s Restaurant, replaces a building constructed during the 1930s. It was one of the oldest serving fire stations in the county, said Jonathan Cox, deputy fire chief for Cal Fire's San Mateo division.
He noted that the old station building was originally designed to accommodate just the fire warden and the warden’s family living on the premises. But now, the station has daily staffing of six or seven firefighters, so expanding the living quarters was necessary.
“We've quadrupled the amount of living space. The firefighters now have individual bedrooms, individual classrooms, areas to work out," Cox said, noting that an important feature of the new station is that it’s separated into three zones: a dirty zone for contaminated equipment and gear; a decontamination zone with heavy-duty washers where firefighters can change out of contaminated gear and wash it; and the clean zone, which is the living area.
“So that's a big improvement (for the) health for our firefighters, to get them as far removed from the carcinogens as possible,” he said.
These improvements, Cox said, mean that the community’s firefighters will be “better rested, better trained, less susceptible to the conditions of the job.”
The new station features a two-story, 12,037-square-foot main building and a 1,638-square-foot vehicle building. The facilities include a training and conference room and a reserve apparatus bay, which Cox said allows the station to store specialized equipment such as a water tender and gear for fighting fires in remote areas.
He said that the expanded living quarters also allow for “surge capacity” at the station, meaning that when there are peak fire conditions, an extra engine company could be housed there.
The new station’s design should also help firefighters get to calls more quickly, Cox said. “They're actually able to respond faster because the fire station is one unit right now. (At) the old station you had to walk from one building to another, it was kind of a long walk and it added to our response time, so we should see the ability for firefighters to get to calls quicker," he said.
The county broke ground on the new Station 58 in 2016. The project cost $8.1 million and was paid for in part by funds from Measure K, an extension of a half-cent countywide sales tax originally passed in 2012, and construction bonds.
The old station stayed operational until the completion of the new facilities, then was demolished.