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Ignacio Fire Crew Prepares for New Quarters

Firefighters to set up camp off Nave Drive while Enfrente Road station is renovated.

Design review, contractor bids and plans for temporary digs are just a few of the plates spinning simultaneously as the Novato Fire District makes progress toward building a new .

On Monday, the Novato Fire District board of directors approved a $207,500 bid from Fremont-based S&H Construction to create a temporary station on Roblar Drive, just across Highway 101 from the existing station and directly across from the entrance of the of .

All told, the design and rebuilding of the Enfrente Road station and the costs of the temporary station will run about $8 million, according to Deputy Chief Eric Nickel. He said the $207,500 for the temporary construction was $60,000 less than expected by the board.

"We really tried hard to solicit bids from Novato businesses, but we received no bids," he said. "That will probably change when we get ready to approve the rebuilding of the existing station."

Slated to open by early 2014, a new 7,500-square-foot facility will replace existing 1970s structure that the fire district says could collapse in a large earthquake. The Ignacio station, rotting and leaky, is anchored into concrete with wood timbers that Nickel likens to telephone poles, giving the place a treehouse motif.  

Across Highway 101, S&H plans to pave part of the lot on Roblar Drive, a few steps north of a string of businesses on the fringe of Hamilton Marketplace shopping center. The lot is being leased by the fire district for $1 a year from Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, which plans to have a commuter train running through Novato in about three years. The fire district will provide training on first aid, CPR and defibrillators to SMART employees before the train service starts running, Nickel said.

"It's a win-win for both agencies," he said.

A single-wide trailer will be brought to the Roblar site to serve as an office and sleeping quarters for the three-member Station 64 team, and a heavy-duty shed will be erected to house a fire engine, Nickel said.

The only thing firefighters won't be able to do at the temporary quarters that they normally do at Station 64 is work out with on-site fitness equipment. Nickel said crews would work out either at Station 65 at Hamilton or a nearby gym.

Nickel said the reception from the residents at Los Robles Mobile Home Park has been excellent. The fire district hosted a meeting with park residents and answered many of their questions about noise and traffic.

"They have been super as we've gone through the planning process," Nickel said. "... We've also worked with other neighbors near the (Enfrente) station to allay some of their concerns. I'd say we've received very positive reviews."

According to Division Chief Mark Heine, the plans for the redesigned Station 64 on Enfrente Road have gone through the first round of evaluations with the Novato Design Review Commission and the Novato Planning Commission. Heine said there were only a few requests to modify to landscaping and architectural features of the station's entrance. At the Sept. 5 design meeting, renderings of a fence to run between the new fire station and  will be presented.

Heine said the timeline has the fire station personnel moving out of the old station and into temporary quarters by October. Paramedics crews have already been relocated to Station 65 at Hamilton.

"The structural engineers wanted us out of the (Enfrente) station by the time of heavy rains because they were concerned about more wood rot and other safety issues," Nickel said.

Demolition of old site is planned for November and December. Construction of the new station will begin in late spring of 2013, Heine said. If all goes according to plan, Heine said firefighters and the paramedics would rejoin in their new headquarters by fall 2014.

D Rex August 21, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Firefighters are part of the fabric of our community, lets provide them with the best tools we can
Bill August 22, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Can someone explain where the $8 million came from. This project should be postponed five years and the $ used by the school district, where it is really needed. Congrats to the SF PR firm, the ghost-writers of the original draft of this article!!!!!
Bob August 22, 2012 at 04:05 PM
The Fire District and the School district are 2 separate entities. Each get their own funding and have their own budgets. My understanding is that the Fire District has a vehicle and station replacement fund that is added to each budget year and is earmarked for those purposes. Those funds can only be used for those purposes. There may also be a construction loan, could be a large part of the $8 million, as part of the funds for the new station. Also if you follow the articles, and in this article, they state there is serious structural problems with the station and postponing the replacement is not an option
Brent Ainsworth (Editor) August 22, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Thanks, Bob, for chiming in with a nice overview. Yes, the word "district" is the signal that tax money comes in separately from the city, county and other special districts. NFD has saved for years for such capital improvements. Bill, I can assure you that existing station is a junkpile and a pretty much danger to those who step inside it.
Bill August 23, 2012 at 03:40 PM
A lot of questions remain unanswered. What % of the $ comes from the Ciy of Novato and what % from other sources? How long did it take to save $8 mil? Who paid for the new Hamilton fire station and where did that money come from? I do not believe the NFD is capable of policeing itself since all five board members are ex-fire fighters; the seven year olds are in charge of the candy store. Spending $8 million to house three people and two pieces of equipment is outrageous. The existing fire station was not properly maintained and still has life left in it. A seismic retrofit and rehab could easily be done for $500,000 or so. Are the engineers who declared it unsafe the same ones designing the new building? Conflict of interest? Come on BA, cut the fluff and do a real analysis on this topic.
JAN March 19, 2013 at 02:52 PM
I don't belive Novato could sponsor a Mother's Day resolution without someone taking offense. Bill, your debate loses steam when you accuse the NFD board of being 7 years old. Whatever validity your comment had just flew out the window.

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