Groundbreaking takes place for new fire station

It’s been a study in patience for North County Fire Protection District. That’s why happiness and heavy sighs of relief were both present when ground was officially broken for the District’s new Station 5 in Bonsall on April 10. Numerous “red tape” delays have resulted in the project being started roughly a year later than the district hoped.

“The County process has been extraordinary and tested all of our patience; we hoped to be doing this a year ago, but we are finally here,” said Fire Chief Bill Metcalf. “We have our final meeting with the County [of San Diego] this week, will be going out to bid for construction shortly, and hope to award the bid to a contractor in May.”

The new 10,000 square foot, approximately $3.5 million station has been in the planning stages for over a decade. The 2.67 acre site is on Olive Hill Road just west of State Route 76 and the Arco AM/PM gas station.

“The land was purchased for this station in 2000; since then, we have been saving our nickels and dimes and waiting to see what Caltrans’ final plan for the development of State Route 76 would be, in case this property was going to be put in the path of the new road,” explained Metcalf. “We started in earnest in 2009 to get this project going.”

Deputy Fire Chief Jon Torchia has been the lead for the project.

“He has spent a lot of time moving this project forward and I’m just sorry he is retiring next month; we will have to get him back here for the grand opening when it is finished,” said Metcalf.

Funding for the new station will come in the form of $1.3 million in cash from the mitigation fund and $2.2 million in financing.

“One hundred percent of the costs are being paid using mitigation funds,” explained Metcalf. “We have enough money in our facility fund to cover the full cost, but elected to not clean out the account completely. We will continue to use mitigation fund revenue (new and existing) to pay the note over the next few years.” The use of mitigation fees carries certain restrictions, he said.

“The mitigation fees can only be spent on capital improvements, like this project,” said Metcalf. “They can’t be used for other purposes.”

Metcalf said, “It’s a great time to build. Many construction firms are looking for work so we may be able to get the best cost at this time to do the project.”

The new station will replace the double wide mobile home that has served as Bonsall’s station since 1982. It has been located on land next to Bonsall Elementary School on Old River Road.

“The old station is looking tired, but it has served us well,” said Metcalf. “We have gotten three decades of use out of it, but a lot of things have changed in 30 years in the community.”

Metcalf said a study was done in recent years to determine the appropriate placement and staffing of stations for the current demographic.

“There has been a lot of development and growth over the years and this new station has been justified very well,” said Metcalf. “At one time we thought when this was built it might be okay to combine it with the Olive Hill station, but it has been proven that that would not be a good idea, so we did a remodel of the Olive Hill station in 2007 and it will remain in use.”

“The new [Bonsall] station will include: a three bay apparatus area for one structure engine, one brush engine, and one ambulance; living quarters that accommodate up to eight firefighters including sleeping quarters, bathrooms, kitchen, and a dayroom; a training room, physical fitness area, office space; public lobby and restroom; workshop, storage for firefighting equipment and medical supplies; personnel and equipment decontamination area; personal protective equipment storage, a communications room, back-up power generator area, and a fuel dock,” said Torchia.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, tribute was paid by both Metcalf and Board President Wayne Hooper to past board members and district staffers for what was referred to as “foresight” for this project.

“Deputy Chief Torchia and past board members deserve our thanks for looking forward and making this happen,” said Hooper. “Personally, I think it is nice to have good quality building in our community. I was excited when the new Sheriff’s building went up.”

“Over the past three years, the committee has worked very hard in developing the general plan for the station and is looking forward to the construction phase of the project,” said Torchia. “I think once we start to see the site actually beginning to take shape, the excitement will grow not only within the committee but throughout the fire district.”

The project, which is expected to complete in about a year, will put a feather in Bonsall’s cap.

“It has been over 40 years since there has been a new station constructed in the district,” noted Torchia. And this new building will be in step with today’s expectations in construction.

“This will be a state-of-the-art facility for us; we have included green features in the design and will use some recycled products in construction,” said Torchia, adding that he hopes once it is completed, the community will “view it as an asset.”

Not only will the project better provide for today’s demographics, it will provide jobs in a still-struggling economy.

“This is an exciting day, to finally be able to come here and break ground for a new fire station; it’s a real milestone,” said Metcalf. “In this economy, we are very proud to be able to do this.”

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21 Responses to "Groundbreaking takes place for new fire station"

  1. Ray (the real One)   April 19, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Bout time. The have been living in trailers for the past three years.

  2. correction to Ray   April 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    Don’t stop now! What are in the plans, to replace the other worn out fire stations, in Fallbrook? That was for thirty years, Ray. Not three years. Sounds as though the firefighters had to live in a temporary-permanent trailer for 30 years! Not good.

  3. Fact Checker   April 19, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Ray, I beleive you are incorrect on the number of years but absolutley correct on this being a long time coming.

  4. observant   April 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    At $350 a square foot, it seems a little expensive but at least they didn’t hire the same architect as the library. It’s actually a decent looking building that will fit in well.

  5. warriorfan   April 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    It’s about time is an under statement. North County Fire has six stations. Three of them are double wide trailers. The Bonsall station is the youngest of them.

  6. Fallbrookian   April 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Isn’t there already a station on Olive Hill Road?

  7. Contractor   April 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Wow, 3.5 million for 10,000 s.f. is very expensive in this economy where you should be able to get very competitive pricing. What architect/contractor is ripping off the county? They probably have 10 46" flat screens planned for inside.

  8. 2Fallbrookian   April 20, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    I was thinking the same thing. Two stations down the street from each other? Who made that decision.

  9. warriorfan   April 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Re: Fallbrookian & 2Fallbrookian. Fire stations are not like libraries. You don’t build just one to serve the community. They are stratigically placed to help get to where they have to go faster. And taking into consideration future growth. To the people of Bonsall, that extra five minutes it takes to come down Olive Hill could be the difference between life and death. They deserve the same service as you Fallbrookians!

  10. sdp   April 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Although there is a fire station on Olive hill road (way up near Burma road) you have to consider what area each covers and their response times.

    How long would it take a truck/ambulance to reach a fire/accident in southern or eastern Bonsall???… not that quick.

  11. Pessimistic   April 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I concur, ‘Contractor’. Seems pricy to me as well. But, then again, I have no doubt that has more to do with State "regulations" (aka interference) and it having to be a union contract than anything else. "ten 46" flat screens" – LMAO! A little exaggeration, but at least I get your point. More likely ten Lazy Boy recliners for in front of a single 56" flat screen.

    BTW – when are they ever going to go to "shift work" like the rest of the working stiffs. I know, I know, that’s a sacred cow one must never even consider touching. God forbid that actually save the taxpayers money.

    But alas, overall, I am glad they are getting some better digs to call home (with a kitchen, beds, etc. to go with that TV room). Do I sound jealous? I don’t know – maybe… LOL

  12. 2Fallbrookian   April 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I am not questioning the new station located at 76 and Olive Hill. To me that seems logical. I am questioning having a second station on olive hill rd. How can Fallbrook Fire possibly fund two stations on the same road. I don’t know what formula they used for this placement but to me I don’t know how it can possibly be justified.

  13. Ray (the real one)   April 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

    There is a thought. Give the fire and paramedics the new sheriff digs and let the deputies work out of the trailers. I have the “utmost respect” for the firemen and paramedics of North County Fire, they took real good care of my mother while she was alive and I never got the chance to say “thank you guys” so I’m saying it now……..


  14. Ray (the real one)   April 23, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Contractor: You should know that a fire station is not a strip mall or kitchen your used to working with, has requirements well beyond what you can see from the outside. 3.5 million, that’s a good deal.

  15. Contractor   April 23, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Ray, I agree with your first comment and too have a great respect for fireman and paramedics of North County Fire. However, I disagree with your 2nd comment, and am curious how many commercial construction projects you built, and how many of them cost $350/sf (not including the land). RS Means Estimating Data says it should cost around $130/sf with union labor, but I agree that may be light, but $200/sf is more then reasonable. Something just isn’t adding up and I don’t like to see the fire department not get good value for their dollar.

  16. Good Choice   April 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

    The previous fire board, several years ago, made a sound decision, in acquiring the property, for the new fire station. The location, near Olive Hill and 76, couldn’t be better.

    The firefighters should be able to respond quickly into Bonsall and Fallbrook, from the new location.

    As far as the two stations on Olive Hill, it is not out of the ordinary, especially when considering the hair pin turns and delayed response times from each location, due to the topography and difficult roads to traverse, especially in a multi-ton fire engine, carrying an additional 500 gallons of water.

    If you removed the station, on North Olive Hill, the response times would be over 10 minutes! Not when my life, or my neighbor’s are concerned! Good job firefighters. Welcome to our neighborhood!

  17. Reality Checker   April 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Like what, Ray? Ide like to know where my tax dolllars are going inside that place. Im so tired of having to constantly pay more and more in taxes, just for once would like to know just what is being bought and paid for with it. I mean really, what EXACTLY. Would anyone ever give us a list? Of course not, then they would have to explain it. That goes for schools and everything. Just what does my taxes pay for? EXACTLY. We should be able to get an itemized statement for what each of our taxes go for. Let us see where our money flows. Be able to track each dollar from our account all the way to where it ends up. Why cant they do that? Give an accounting of where your money goes? They can, but wont. They have the technology and the ability, so why not! Tell us where each of our dollars in tax goes.

  18. SAR   April 23, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    I don’t know about you, but if I need a firefighter or paramedic, I want them to be rested and on their best. The price tag may be high, but don’t they deserve to have some luxuries there? I mean, I agree with Ray…when you need them, they are there, no questions asked. They are professional in what they do.
    Thank you firefighters from this Fallbrook person.

  19. 2Fallbrookian   April 24, 2012 at 6:41 am

    I am not buying it. The Fallbrook area is to big and spread out to have two stations that close together in that rural area.

  20. Ray (the real one)   April 25, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Contractor: the $350.00 a square foot is not really a bad price since fire stations must be able to support and survive a disaster like an earthquake, Have the ability to treat people in such an emergency, the ability to have backup power to sustain the station during the disaster, to maintain (24) shifts. Go try renting a space in downtown San Diego, $350.00 a square foor would be cheap. More to a fire station than say a strip mall or office complex. Example the San Diego Fire station on 25th and Broadway cost far more to retrofit than this station is costing to build.

  21. Vivek   July 18, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Is anyone doing a foot search near the tower where the phones were pinging for a couple of days? Supposedly within 1.5 miles of the tower? I have seen several shows on this and have yet to see anyone talk about an actual boots on the ground search.


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