The may have nailed down a spot outside the entrance of the as a temporary home for the fire crew and engine while Fire Station 64 in Ignacio undergoes a .
The site – almost directly across the freeway from the current fire station -- will allow fire teams to maintain the district’s standard of having a unit dispatched to the scene within eight minutes or less, according to Deputy Fire Chief Eric Nickel.
Nickel said that the District is in discussion to lease property that belongs to Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit (SMART) across from the entrance of the mobile home park on Roblar Drive.
The plan is to place two structures on the lot. One will be a Quonset hut-style structure for the fire engine and another will be a portable building for the crew's captain, engineer and firefighter/paramedic.
The leased housing facility will have a kitchen, office, dorms, bathroom and day room for the three firefighters.
A separate structure will be purchased to house the engine. “It is cheaper to buy than to lease and we’ll be able to use it after the new firehouse is completed,” Nickel said.
In anticipation of construction starting this summer or early fall, the station’s paramedic ambulance and 2-person firefighter/paramedic crew have already been relocated to Fire Station 65 at Hamilton.
According to Nickel, it was important to District’s board of directors to maintain the operations of the Ignacio station--the second busiest fire station in Novato--while the building is under construction.
The station's coverage zone is south of Novato Boulevard and Highway 37 and includes Ignacio, Bel Marin Keys, College of Marin and the Los Robles Mobile Home Park.
“It’s a fairly large zone and one of the areas with the highest community risks for fire,” Nickel said, referring to a large number of apartment buildings without sprinkler systems.
“It’s an area that also has a majority of our emergency medical service calls,” he said.
“Our goal is to dispatch a unit to the scene within eight minutes or less – 90 percent of the time,” he added.
Nickel said the option of relying on the next closest station on Redwood Boulevard Station 61 was reviewed by the District's board but would have meant that goal would have been reduced to being met only 45 percent of the time.
“The community has an expectation that a fire crew and paramedic crew are nearby,” Nickel said. He added that the costs of a temporary location are about $400,000 and are included in the $8 million dollar rebuild budget.
Nickel said that a community meeting was held with Los Robles residents about the possible location. “They’re actually very excited to have us as neighbors,” said Nickel.
Eileen Plunkett, a 15-year-resident at Los Robles, attended the meeting and agreed.
“There were 50 to 60 residents there and they (fire officials) did a fabulous presentation,” said Plunkett.
Originally, Plunkett said that the Los Robles community had heard rumors about the fire district’s plan and had concerns about siren noise and traffic. Of particular worry was the placement of the station.
Residents had thought that the station would be placed at the end of Roblar Drive, close to the homes and in a spot where cars exiting the community would not be accustomed to looking to the right before leaving, creating a chance for accidents.
“We got all excited because it’s going to be right across from our gate,” she said.
Plunkett said that they were told that the fire vehicles won’t use the sirens as they exit the area until they reach Nave Drive.
“Everyone was very satisfied with how it’s going to be done,” Plunkett said. “I don’t know one person who came away from that meeting that’s unhappy.”
Los Robles is the same community that very vocally objected to a SMART station at the same location, but Plunkett said that the situation is different because the fire station is temporary.
Nickel is still cautious saying that the arrangement is not a completely done deal.
But with a location secured, a rendering of the plan and approval of the neighbors, many of the pieces are in place, including making sure the engine will fit it its parking spot.
“They said they brought in their largest engine and did a test run,” Plunkett said. “They will pull into the entrance of Los Robles and then back into their space.”