Financing current focus for new fire station

The construction cost for the North County Fire Protection District to replace Station 5 in Bonsall will be higher than the district budgeted and estimated, so fire district staff will investigate financing options to allow full funding of the new fire station.

NCFPD deputy fire chief Ed Sprague addressed the district’s board June 25, although the presentation was a discussion item rather than a voting action. “It was more of an information item to get direction from the board to staff,” Sprague said.

The board directed NCFPD staff to research funding options and return to the board with findings. The board was asked whether the district should seek the additional financing or delay the project until additional funds would be available. “The board’s direction was to pursue opportunities or research opportunities for some additional financing,” Sprague said.

Station 5 is NCFPD’s Bonsall fire station. It is currently located near Bonsall Elementary School, and the new station will be built near the intersection of State Route 76 and Olive Hill Road.

The fire district had previously approved a design and construction management services contract with an architectural firm. School districts are exempt from local land use jurisdiction but fire districts, water districts, and other local government agencies are subject to the county process. The North County Fire Protection District began the permit process with the county in early 2010, when construction costs were lower due to economic conditions. “That was several years ago when we started the process,” Sprague said.

The permitting process took more than three years, and construction costs have increased during that time. “The cost of Station 5 exceeded the initial estimates that were done,” Sprague said. “The cost of the facility is much greater than anticipated.”

The architectural consultant provided an estimate of approximately $3.5 million, although that was based on construction beginning in 2010. “It’s quite a bit higher,” Sprague said.

The fire district sent a request for proposals and received six bids which were opened June 19. The lowest base bid was $4,662,000 and the highest was $4,967,000. When optional items were added the bids ranged from $4,700,464 to $4,997,800. “They’re all by reputable contractors,” Sprague said of the bids.

Sprague added that the small range between the lowest and highest bids also indicated that the district would likely be unable to build the fire station at a lower cost. “One of the key drivers right now is the cost of materials,” Sprague said.

The lack of a contact award June 25 does not force a new bidding process. “All of the bids from the contractors are good for 90 days,” Sprague said. “You can exercise any one of them.”

The 90-day period from the bid opening date ends Sept. 17. The next NCFPD board meeting is scheduled for July 23. “We may not have all the answers in July,” Sprague said.

NCFPD staff will at least update the board at the July 23 meeting. The August 27 board meeting would be an additional opportunity for action items on financing and awarding the contract, and the board could also call a special meeting between Aug. 27 and Sept. 17.

In addition to the construction costs, the district must also fund soils testing, professional services, and other expenses.

23 Responses to "Financing current focus for new fire station"

  1. Ground Breaking   July 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    I recall the fire department’s ground breaking, for the new fire station, over a year ago. So, what happened since then? Don’t build a fire station, or have any ground breaking ceremony, until you have the funding and are ready to do so!

    Almost $5,000,000 for a new fire house-WOW, that sure sounds excessive,
    unless the palace is lined with GOLD!

  2. Who dropped the ball   July 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    We know the county works at a snails pace. But three years seems excessive. You would think a public safety agency would have some pull with the county.
    Sounds to me like the Fire department was’nt in a big hurry to build.

  3. Frustrated at bureaucracy   July 18, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    This has been bugging the heck out of me since day 1. I did my homework on this and here is what I see happened. The Fire Department saved up money to build a fire station and yes they had to borrow some. They had all of their permits and held a grown breaking ceremony. The next week the County told them that there was a new permit process that they just developed. It had to do with the 76 realignment and the county tried to soak the Fire Department for new sidewalks on Olive Hill and repaving of the entire Olive Hill Road from 76 all the way to Shamrock Lane. Then the Pala Indian tribe tried to stop the process because a 50 square foot corner near AM/PM could of possibly been an "Indian Settlement" over two hundred years ago. This was proven negative after a $40,000 wasted study.
    Regarding the costs, I found out that these public buildings have different building codes and they need to last 50 plus years. They also have a lot of different codes and OSHA requirements which tacks on a couple hundred thousand of ridiculous fees.
    I say give them the digs, they take care of us pretty darn well. What we need to do is complain to Bill Horn and Ralph Steinhoff for holding this project up and costing extra money, shame on them.

  4. Lee   July 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Do THE PEOPLE get to vote on any of this directly? If not, why not?! Where is the TRUE democracy? Where?!

    When you DON’T have true democracy, THIS then is the result. Good luck!

  5. Check it out   July 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Comment #4 is absolutely correct, that is exactly what happened. NCFPD had the funds in hand and the process completed when the county threw them a curve ball. A whole new round of bureaucratic nonsense that had to be studied and completed, when that was finally over the original cost was out the window and the price to build jacked up.

    @Lee. Last November an election was held (you may remember that) and 3 board members were all reelected by "the people" with a pretty good majority of votes. This IS true Democracy in action. If you have a complaint you can always attend a board meeting (4th Tuesday of the month, 5pm at FPUD) or call the board members individually, after all, they represent "us". It would be nice if you were to actually educate yourself on how our system works instead of parroting a broken record every time you speak. Not holding my breath though.

  6. Frustrated at bureaucracy   July 19, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Lee, "Check it out" is correct. The fire department (in this case) are the experts in providing emergency services to this community. They are led and managed by a Fire Chief but governed by an elected board. The departments expertise comes form the Fire Chief and his department while the "flavor of the community" comes from the elected officials who represent us the citizens. You are more than welcome to go to any board meeting as they are open and their business is transparent. They take the opinions of the community seriously. That is why I like our Fire Department and don’t wish to be part of any County Department that is governed and led by people that don’t live here or have a stake in the community.
    Having worked many years ago in a water district way up north, i know how special districts work. The money they get from new construction can only go to "capital items" like new stations. Seeing that they are in rat, termite and mold infested trailers now shows me that past Fire Chiefs didn’t care much but the new one does. Lets hope he can fight through the bureaucracy of the county.

  7. grunt   July 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    @Lee – please re-read any of the comments made after all your "don’t we get to vote" rants.

  8. kma   July 20, 2013 at 12:27 am

    HAHA! New sidewalks on Olive Hill to Shamrock? There are exactly TWO properties w/dwellings on them between 76 and Shamrock! One property is unoccupied and the other has one to two ppl living on it, and they are NOT using sidewalks! Shamrock has seven properties w/dwellings and the county didn’t provide one dime to pave it, but the county wants this portion of Olive Hill sidewalked? Sidewalks for who? The random ppl who drive their cars over to the nature preserve (Cal Trans has to buy as mitigation) to let their dogs run free and crap all over and NEVER pick it up? Maybe Cal Trans should have put the sidewalks in.

  9. Lee   July 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Folks, I want you to google "Oceanside fire station 7" and PLEASE tell me whether or not a SEVEN MILLION DOLLAR fire station is TRULY needed! PLEASE tell me! We all know which station this is: it’s the one off the 76 across the street from the old drive-in theater.

    Folks, that’s not a fire station; that’s a DARN castle!!!! And it was completed in 2008 at the height of our economic crisis. So do you know what that tells us? Hmm?

    This tells us that our firefighters don’t give ONE DARN RAT’S BEHIND about you and I and our economic worries! They care about one thing and one thing only:


    Good luck to us all!

  10. Pink   July 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Clearly Lee has no idea of what he is talking about, he appears to just throw this particular comment out whenever he feels like it, without bothering to even try and explain how this "democracy" in his mind could even work. In my opinion he is just an attention seeker without the intestinal fortitude to even answer back when confronted. As someone said, "you can’t use logic on people who aren’t logical".

  11. Sawyer   July 21, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Isn’t there already a station on Olive Hill Rd? Now there is going to be another one?

  12. I am so opinionated !   July 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm


    Pink and Lee waste their time arguing back and forth, constantly, just like two little kids. How about commenting on the article?

    As for my opinion, ALL of the fire stations, which NCFPD has, need to be replaced, in particular, the station in Bonsall. The firefighters, who work there, reside in a "temporary" trailer station, and have for decades! This article is about building a new station, to replace this old one, referred to as Station 5. I support our local firefighters and know they deserve, and we as residents, also deserve a new, contemporary "permanent" fire house! Station 2 and Station 3 were remodeling, within the past 10 years and they resemble homes, instead of fire stations. Both are temporary fixes. I support the fire board, who represent all of us, and hope they will have a positive influence in resolving this matter, and getting this fire station built. It will be a move, in the right direction for future improvements, for public safety, in our communities (Fallbrook, Bonsall and Rainbow).

  13. Pink   July 21, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    @Comment #13: I too support the fire board. I know most of them personally and voted for the 3 incumbents, and I trust them to do the best job they can as my representatives. I don’t argue with Lee, that is an impossibility, you can’t argue with people who throw out nonsensical comments and then refuse to answer back when confronted.

  14. Tom   July 22, 2013 at 10:02 am

    They had a ground breaking a year ago and they just figured out they don’t have enough money to build the station? Hahaha…yep, that sounds like North County Fire.

  15. flbkboy   July 22, 2013 at 10:51 am

    clearly the district has all the money in the world they saw fit to send the Chief of NCF to the fancy memorial service in Arizona for the lost 19 firemen did we really need a person from Fallbrook to represent us there. This show of solidarity does not come free…we had to pay for his little reunion with other chiefs. and the 20 different drum and pipe groups to play music…come on what a waste of money…Give the money spent to the families of the lost firefighters instead if we have so much to waste….

  16. Really??   July 22, 2013 at 11:15 am

    @flbkboy: Chief Metcalf attended the memorial in Arizona representing the IAFC (International Association of Fire Chiefs) an organization that he has the honor to be president of, and that by the way, is a great honor for Fallbrook as well. He attended on their dime, not ours. It would be so nice if people were to get their facts straight before opening their mouths and inserting one foot. Also, just FYI, the fire department is a brotherhood and sisterhood. They have always had, and hopefully, always will have, memorials for fallen comrads. That is a tradition to be proud of. The boot was passed for the families of the victims as well. How very sad that flbkboy doesn’t belong to an association that cares about him and his loved ones, it might help his disposition.

    @Tom: Please read the other comments. NCFPD had the money raised to pay for the new station, however the county screwed them over, and after a year the cost to build went up…. get it?

  17. Mike   July 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    I work with the County and it sounds like they had a ground breaking before they were done with the permit process. Bad planning.

  18. Check it out   July 22, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Right Mike. They believed that they were through with the permit process, but the county, being what they are, decided they needed to have yet another permit. That is the counties way of doing unscrupulous business and getting away with charging more fees.

  19. SICK   July 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    I AM SICK OF THE COUNTY-We’d be better to incorporate! and do away with all of the county’s garbage

  20. grunt   July 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm

    Chief Metcalf – thank you for representing Fallbrook; to others – sure our tax money goes to support/pay for the fire department, including their new station. Rather it go there than to Obama-phones; free benefits for illegals, snap cards for strip clubs. Next time the fires rage through we will be grateful for the Chief and his guys and gals,

  21. Tom   July 23, 2013 at 6:10 am

    @Really: you don’t have a ground breaking until your ready to break ground…get it?

  22. fl   July 23, 2013 at 8:16 am

    My dispositon does not need help as much as my over burdened tax bill. Who pays the dues to belong to (International Association of Fire Chiefs) who pays travel expenses for him to have this great honor position. I am tired of Huge events of this kind being a circus of expense so the brotherhood and sisterhood feel good about each other. I am not proud of the tradition of 1000s and 1000s of Tax Dollars being spent for Long long lines of Police from all over the state can waste time and money to be in a long parade, what a waste, does the family expect that nowadays? How many other small departments had to send reps to Arizona to be a part of the spot light?. I am very proud of the 19 Firemen who bravely gave their lives in the line of doing their duty. And all the others that worked so hard.

  23. Seriously??   July 23, 2013 at 9:12 am

    @Tom: Aren’t you being just a little bit silly? Lots of people hold a ground breaking before they are actually ready to bring in the bull dozers. NCFPD evidently believed that they were ready to start building when the county arbitrarily decided to throw a other useless permit into the process. Probably an endangered toad stool.


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