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San Diego Fire Station 5 at University and Ninth avenues, is small, has asbestos, and is understaffed, but it still shoulders a full load. Placed into service in 1951, the Hillcrest station serves an area just over four square miles. In 2013, it had 4534 incident runs: 292 for fires, 3798 for medical/rescue and 444 for “other” services.

Discussions about a new station in Hillcrest have been ongoing for several years, but with slow progress. A new 10,500-square-foot fire station, costing $8.2 million, was finally included in bond funding by the San Diego City Council in January. The council had previously approved a contract in June 2011 with Rob Quigley Architects, paying $498,320 for design services.

But construction won't begin until February 2015, with completion expected in February 2017. Those dates are the city's “current best estimate” and aren't carved in stone. Asked about the delay, mayor Kevin Faulconer's spokesman Charles Chamberlayne explained that the construction start had been earlier for 2013 but “Mayor Filner didn't pursue a bond issue” to fund the project.

Total cost of the firehouse project, including purchase of a new fire engine for $800,000, is now $9,040,000. Maintenance costs will be somewhat higher due to the building's larger size. The larger station will house a crew of eight and a battalion chief.

In February 2011, Citygate Associates, LLC (management consultants), released its study on the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. While it spoke well of fire-department staff, it stated that “the City of San Diego does not have adequate fire station coverage in all areas, due to the inability to fund fire station expansion as the City developed.” It went on to state: “The City of San Diego needs additional fire stations over time as fiscal conditions allow,” to house increased staffing and to improve response times.

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dwbat April 24, 2014 @ 4:06 p.m.

Mayor Faulconer's press secretary/director of media relations, Craig Gustafson, emailed a followup statement today: "The project currently remains on schedule for construction to start in February 2015. However, the schedules for all Capital Improvements Program projects funded through the recent $120 million bond may be impacted until a ruling on the legal challenge is made."

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