By Catherine Spearnak
Construction on Hillcrest’s new fire station at Ninth and University is expected to begin before year’s end.
In November, the crew at Fire Station No. 5 will move into temporary quarters so the 65-year-old station at 4311 Ninth Ave. can be demolished and construction of a new station can begin.
The new firehouse is scheduled to open in March 2018. Demolition of the old station, which went into service in August 1951, is set to start as soon as firefighters move out. Fire Station No. 5 serves a 4-square-mile area that includes Hillcrest and surrounding neighborhoods.
More than a year ago, the long-awaited project stalled when temporary quarters planned for the station had to be moved to a new location on Third Avenue, near Bachman Place.
“Once the crew moves into the temporary facility, there will be no interruption in service during construction of the new fire station,” states a fact sheet issued by the city’s Public Works Department.
Councilmember Todd Gloria told San Diego Uptown News that he is excited to see the project back on track.
“The project to replace Fire Station No. 5 in Hillcrest is a critical step towards enhancing public safety and improving emergency response times for the residents in my council district,” Gloria said. “Though I am frustrated by the delays, I am proud we stayed focused to get this improvement done for my constituents and that work will begin before the end of the year.”
Renowned San Diego architect Rob Quigley, creator of the domed San Diego Central Library and the New Children’s Museum, has designed the new fire station. Quigley is also the architect for the Ocean Discovery Institute in City Heights, being built for students in the San Diego Unified School District.
The new firehouse, projected to cost $9 million, will total 10,731 square feet. It will be a two-story structure that will include two and a half apparatus bays and nine dormitory rooms. The bays will have capacity for one engine, one ladder truck and one battalion chief vehicle. The dormitories will provide sleeping quarters for one battalion chief, two captains and six firefighters.
“Extensive daylight design strategies will minimize electrical use in the building,” according to a fact sheet provided by Quigley.
“Light tubes and skylights will naturally illuminate the hallways, stairs and equipment bays. Clear glass will be used at the first story entry way watch room to avoid the ‘nobody home’ personality of the first station.”
Construction on the new fire station is estimated to take 18 to 24 months, according to Monica Munoz, senior public information officer with the Public Works Department.
—Catherine Spearnak is a San Diego-based freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.