A third Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety fire station will be coming to the westside section of town on the corner of Labath and Martin Avenue in an effort to help reduce response time to calls in the west side of town, as well as to give firefighters their own station along with a brand new fire truck/apparatus, according to Fire Division Commander Mike Bates. The groundbreaking for the station will take place later this fall.
Commander Bates said this station will be the first true fire station as firefighters in the department have previously had to share space with the police department.
“It will be our first true fire station. The one on the southside was a house that was built by the builder at the time that was transformed into a fire station, the one on Country Club Drive was a city facility where they stored apparatuses. Once we went into 24-hour fire service, that became a fire station, so I would say this is our true station built for the purpose of being a fire station,” Bates said.
The main goal of the new station aims to improve on emergency call response times for the commercial and west side of town.
In several response time studies conducted over four years by the Public Safety Fire Division, it was found that call response times exceeded the National Fire Protection Association required time of under-five and half minutes, according to Bates.
Having a station that is closer to the west side of town near a mobile home park, such as Rancho Feliz and Rancho Verde in the mobile home park, will help to respond to calls more quickly he said.
“I saw that we had an extended response time to those commercial areas on the west side...so by placing an apparatus there (trucks and equipment that come with a station), will cut down those response times. It will be significant for those folks on that side of town,” Bates said of the future location of the station.
Bates, who has also seen a rise in emergency calls throughout the years, said the new station will also be helpful in handling the increased number of calls throughout town.
“Since I’ve came into the position four years ago, I came into now the city is growing, we’re showing the need (for a new station) based on calls for service — over 4,000 a year now, we need to look at starting this project,” Bates explained.
Features unique to this station include a fully equipped gym, new fire truck apparatus with a 100-foot ladder and the equipment to house a backup dispatch center. According to the Department of Public Safety, the truck will be delivered this November.
Bates described the size of the station, which will be 3,000 square feet smaller than the original plans due to what the updated budget allows for.
“It will be an over 6,000 square foot station… to house the aerial ladder truck that we’ve ordered,” Bates said.
LCA architects, who have worked on various fire station projects in Northern California, will be spearheading the job after a competitive interview process was conducted for choosing a builder.
When asked if public safety firefighters are excited about getting a station, Bates said they are happy to be getting their own station, regardless of it being only 6,000 square feet, versus the original 9,000.
“I think it really came to light when I had to break the news that we’re not getting a 9,000 square foot station and not one person seemed disappointed. They are just happy to have something they can call a fire station,” Bates said.
Assistant City Manager Don Schwartz spoke enthusiastically about the project and said, “Putting in the fire station over there will help to support the fire services on the west side of Highway 101.”
In terms of budget, according to a five-year Casino Mitigation Report compiled by City Manager Darrin Jenkins, money from the Casino Mitigation Fund will help pay for the design and the station.
The Casino Mitigation Fund was established in 2013 in the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Rohnert Park and the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, which aims to provide funds to the city in order to mitigate impacts the casino may have on the community.
About $35 million of fund money has already gone towards paying for extra police officers for casino patrol and will also go towards the new Westside Station project, according to Jenkin’s report.
“So between the station and the truck, nothing is coming out of the City General Fund,” Bates said of the budget.