Fire stations of the world: San Mateo County’s Skylonda Fire Station 58 in California, US
The San Mateo County Fire Department marked the opening of its new Skylonda Fire Station 58 Replacement Project, serving Kings Mountain, La Honda, upper Woodside and Skyline Boulevard on 28 May 2020. The new Skylonda Fire Station 58 replaces one of the county's oldest serving stations. Mateo County, officially the County of San Mateo, is a county located in the US state of California with a population of 718 451. The recently opened $10 million Skylonda Fire Station 58 is a modern facility that replaces an existing 1936 fire house with improved fire fighter living quarters and vehicle space to help speed public safety response. The new station has a two-storey, 12 037-square-foot main building with individual quarters for 13 fire fighters and a 1 638-square-foot vehicle building. Other highlights include:
The new station, located on Skyline Boulevard adjacent to Alice’s Restaurant, replaces a building constructed during the 1930s. It was one of the oldest serving fire stations in the county, said Jonathan Cox, deputy fire chief for Cal Fire's San Mateo division.
He noted that the old station building was originally designed to accommodate just the fire warden and the warden’s family living on the premises. But now, the station has daily staffing of six or seven fire fighters, so expanding the living quarters was necessary. “We've quadrupled the amount of living space. The fire fighters now have individual bedrooms, individual classrooms, areas to work out,” Cox said, noting that an important feature of the new station is that it’s separated into three zones: a dirty zone for contaminated equipment and gear; a decontamination zone with heavy-duty washers where fire fighters can change out of contaminated gear and wash it and the clean zone, which is the living area. “So that's a big improvement (for the) health for our fire fighters, to get them as far removed from the carcinogens as possible,” he said. These improvements, Cox added, mean that the community’s fire fighters will be “better rested, better trained, less susceptible to the conditions of the job.”
The County contracts with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) for service through Skylonda Fire Station No 58 for Kings Mountain, La Honda, Upper Woodside and Skyline Boulevard.
In 2015, the Board of Supervisors allocated $4,074 million in Measure K (then known as Measure A) funding to build a new fire station. Voters passed the half-cent sales tax measure for essential services and critical facilities and Supervisor Don Horsley, whose Third District includes the fire station, said a new facility for the area was high on the priority list. Bonds covered the fire station’s remaining cost.
Skylonda Fire Station 58 was constructed in two phases. The 19 September 2018 ribbon cutting marked a significant milestone of the primary facility getting close to occupancy at which point the current station will be demolished.
Fire Chief Ian Larkin said he’ll be sad to see “82 years of strength” torn down when the existing station goes but he looks forward to another 82 years in the new building. “It’s time for a new beginning,” Larkin said.
With the recent California wildfires fresh in everybody’s mind, several speakers used the ceremony as an opportunity to thank the assembled public safety staff. “You do important work each and every day. The people of this county and the people of this state thank you,” County Manager John Maltbie said.
The upgrades include consolidating the existing office and barracks buildings with one new two-storey building connected to an apparatus bay, constructing a new driveway access to Skyline Boulevard, a vehicle storage building, modifying the septic system and replacing the backup emergency power generator. As an essential services facility, the Skylonda Fire Station shall remain operational at all times.
The new station features a training and conference room and a reserve apparatus bay, which Cox said allows the station to store specialised equipment such as a water tender and gear for fighting fires in remote areas. He added that the expanded living quarters also allow for “surge capacity” at the station, meaning that when there are peak fire conditions, an extra engine company could be housed there.
The new station’s design should also help fire fighters get to calls more quickly, Cox stated. “They're actually able to respond faster because the fire station is one unit right now. (At) the old station you had to walk from one building to another, it was kind of a long walk and it added to our response time, so we should see the ability for firefighters to get to calls quicker,” he added.
Sources: The San Mateo County Fire Department , The Almanac and Cal Fire