“It will be beautiful,” said Sandra. “[It’s] another gem in the community, like the police station.”
Sandra, 63, was referring to the almost-completed Fire Station 17 at 4206 Chamoune Avenue in City Heights. Like many Mid-City residents, she’s excited to see the completion of the 10,000-square-foot building that began reconstruction last year.
“It’s scheduled to finish in late November,” said Ken Toups, the superintendent of the construction site. At about 1:45 p.m. on August 28, he was showing three visitors some portions of the grounds that awaited a cement pour. The modern three-story structure with a brick façade and giant high-gloss doorways looked “sweeeeet,” said a guy rubbernecking as he drove by.
“It’ll hold three [fire trucks] and then an ambulance,” Toups said.
This is San Diego’s busiest fire station, covering four square miles. In 2016, Fire Station 17 had 6530 responses from their temporary location at 4000 41st Street (across the street from Aibertos on University Avenue); 4673 were for emergency medical reasons and 434 were for fire-related calls.
“I once took them six dozen Mrs. Field’s cookies because they saved my dogs and my house,” Sandra said. “The fire was an arson fire within my property line.” She lives by Manzanita Canyon and said that the canyons in City Heights have always had a reputation for fires. “I can remember big fires back in the 1960s and the huge one in 1974.”
According to the city's website, Fire Station 17 was originally opened at 4108 University Avenue in 1924. It relocated to its current address in October 1950, into a station constructed at a cost of $29,400.
The new construction cost about $11 million to build, which is part of the “$120 million ‘megabond’ whose proceeds will go toward fixing San Diego’s crumbling infrastructure,” as reported by NBC 7 San Diego in early 2014.
“Firefighters shouldn’t have to live in quarters that have asbestos, water leaking, mold, mildew, the bedbugs that we’ve had,” said Frank De Clercq, president of San Diego Firefighters Local 145 in an interview with NBC 7. “We’ve got a footprint now to make bigger stations to house all of the equipment that has grown up over the years, and to accommodate the firefighters so they have a safe environment.”
According to the Transforming City Heights Facebook page, the new structure will “accommodate up to 10 personnel”; also, “reconstruction of Fire Station 17 will allow for assignment of one additional fire crew to divide emergency response between two units.”