By Ken Williams | Editor
City officials symbolically broke ground on Tuesday, Nov. 1, for a new Fire Station No. 5 in Hillcrest. The price tag is $9.2 million.
Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, District 3 Councilmember Todd Gloria and Fire-Rescue Chief Brian Fennessy presided over a brief ceremony outside the outdated fire station, located at the northwest corner of University and Ninth avenues.
“This 1950s-era station will be replaced with a modern facility that can house more equipment and fire vehicles to better serve nearby neighborhoods,” Mayor Faulconer said. “It’s an example of the city’s record-level investments in infrastructure and ongoing improvements to public safety coming together for the community’s benefit.”
Opening in August 1951, Fire Station No. 5 serves a 4-square-mile area that includes Hillcrest and surrounding communities. The mayor said it is the city’s third-busiest firehouse serving 6,000 emergency calls per year. Fire stations serving City Heights and Downtown are the two busiest firehouses.
The drab cement-block building, which is painted white, will be demolished in late November after a temporary facility is opening at 4311 Third Ave. in northern Hillcrest. Construction is expected to be finished in 2018, Gloria said.
“Today marks the beginning of an important and much-needed public safety improvement for Hillcrest and its surrounding neighborhoods,” Gloria said. “Fire Station No. 5 is one of the busiest engine companies in the city of San Diego and with the construction of this new facility we will not only better equip our Fire-Rescue Department to respond to emergencies faster, but also improve the living conditions for our firefighters who dedicate themselves every day to keeping our residents safe.”
Local architect Rob Quigley, known for the Downtown’s Main Library with its iconic dome, has designed the new 10,731-square-foot, two-floor station. The mayor said the new fire station would be twice the size of the old one, which could not house a modern-day ladder truck.
Chief Fennessy, who noted that he was based at Fire Station No. 5 many years ago, said the new facility would not automatically get a ladder truck but was glad to have that option for the future.
“Our firefighters are committed to their city, department and mission,” Fennessy said. “The firefighters assigned to Fire Station No. 5 have a long history of ensuring that fires are suppressed quickly and medical calls are answered with excellent patient care. With a larger and modernized station, they’ll be able to continue that tradition for generations to come.”
The new station will have a larger apparatus bay to house a fire engine and a chief emergency vehicle. The dormitories will provide sleeping quarters for one battalion chief, two captains and six firefighters. This will be the fourth fire station to be built since the city committed to improve neighborhood services. Construction has begun on fire stations for Bayside and City Heights, and Fire Station No. 45 in Mission Valley opened Nov. 2, 2015 near Qualcomm Stadium.
—Ken Williams is editor of Uptown News and can be reached at email@example.com or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiego, Instagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego.