"Then we found this property," explained Fire Chief Richard Price.
The new site will also work well with the stoplights already in place at the Miranda intersection, said Price. At the current site at 1101 Stone Valley Road, drivers sometimes do not notice flashing lights as emergency vehicles try to exit Station 32, where a permanent yellow light hangs over the road.
"We control that flashing light and it can turn red but 90 percent of the time, people ignore it," said Assistant Fire Chief Steve Hart, who is in charge of planning future growth. "When the shift changes when the Monte Vista High School kids are coming to school, the firefighters can hardly get out to come home."
More importantly, he noted, having the station at the corner will add to their emergency response time.
"There's going to be a big improvement for our responses," said Hart. "We might be getting 15, 20, 30 seconds."
Price noted that the district's emergency crews can arrive at 90 percent of residences within five minutes of a 9-1-1 call.
For a time the fire district was negotiating with the school district to temporarily relocate Station 32 at Stone Valley Middle School, said Hart. It also bought property on Danville Boulevard at Hemme Avenue several years ago with the idea of splitting Alamo fire services into two locations.
"After we purchased it we did further in-depth geographical studies and determined that wasn't going to serve Alamo better," said Hart.
They also noted other problems with access to the site, such as the narrow roads, the day care facility across the street and nearby Rancho Romero Elementary School.
The fire district is in negotiations with Contra Costa County representing Alamo Parks and Recreation to purchase the lot on Danville Boulevard and Hemme for a park. The district also approached the East Bay Regional Park District, which owns the adjacent Iron Horse Trail, but it had other priorities.
Station 32 was opened Nov. 18, 1958. Hart said the Stone Valley Road site has been the perfect spot for a fire station to serve Alamo residents. The property is 0.9 acre and its cost in the 1950s was $4,558, said Hart. Cost of construction was $38,498. At that time, it housed one firefighter. "When the volunteers were called out, they would muster up at the fire station."
Station 32 began to provide ambulance services in the 1970s, said Hart. Now it houses two fire companies, six firefighters, two engines, an ambulance and another engine primarily used for grass and brush fires.
"We've remodeled it twice," Hart said. "In 1991 was the last major remodel."
On Tuesday, Hart estimated construction might begin in about a year.
"I've started working since yesterday with Contra Costa County planning, doing the entitlement phase," said Hart. He is working with ATI Architects and Engineers in Danville on a schematic design.
"Come June we'll have the entitlement phase done and the schematic designs, hopefully," said Hart.
"If everything goes according to plan, we'll be starting construction in January-February 2010," he continued. "It takes about 12-13 months to build a fire station. During that time, these firefighters will continue to live at 1101 Stone Valley Road."
The district will demolish the home that is on the new property, which has four bedrooms and two baths.
"As part of the negotiations we are leasing the home back to the owner for six months," said Hart. "When he's gone we'll destroy the home."
He said it would probably not be used for fire training because it is situated in a neighborhood and will be vacated in the summertime.
After Station 32 moves, the old firehouse and property will probably be declared surplus, said Price.
The newest fire station in the Fire District is Station 36 on Camino Tassajara, Price said. It currently has a structure used for storage that can be utilized if development in the Tassajara Valley ever makes it necessary.
"We are poised for growth," said Price.
He also noted the fine line walked by the district as it plans its fire stations.
"We want to design the stations to match the homes but we are a government agency," he said. "We want to be good neighbors but not look extravagant."
This story contains 780 words.
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