CARLSBAD – Nearly six years to the day after voters approved a ballot measure for a new firehouse, the city unveiled its latest gem — a new Fire Station No. 2 on El Camino Real and Arenal Road in La Costa.
Carlsbad Fire Chief Mike Calderwood and the City Council held a press conference and tours on Oct. 20 at the $14 million station house.
Dreams of a new fire station were solidified after voters overwhelmingly (71%) passed a ballot measure in 2016. After 16 months of construction, the city’s fire crews, who were temporarily stationed at the Dove Library, moved in Oct. 13 to the newly-built station.
“We had a lot of discussions about what would it take for this to occur,” Calderwood said. “The conversation started very early with the neighbors. This was the spot we needed it to be, and I was not a believer. What was sitting here today, I did not think we would fit it on this lot. I have to hand it to the architect and design team. It’s amazing they made this fit.”
The project also included reconfiguring the intersection at El Camino Real and Arenal Road for ingress and egress for fire trucks, along with still-to-be-completed art installations incorporating the Carlsbad landscape.
Former Fire Chief Mike Davis, who also attended he event, said the department had been discussing a new Fire Station No. 2 since the early 1990s. By 2014, the old building had fallen out of code and into disrepair, but calls for service at the station were on the rise, totaling more than 4,500 calls each year.
So, Davis and Calderwood teamed with Jason Haber, then assistant to the city manager, to craft a ballot measure to fund a new firehouse.
Before writing the ballot measure, Davis, Calderwood, and others in the department spoke to residents in the adjacent neighborhood to gauge local support.
In 1972, the city of Carlsbad took over the station, first built three years earlier, after the La Costa neighborhood voted to become part of the city.
Mayor Matt Hall said the city was able to avoid using bonds or debt financing through strategic and long-term planning. By doing so, the project saved the taxpayers millions of dollars.
“We get paid to run into burning buildings and being part of a community proposition is not in our wheelhouse,” Davis said laughing. “There’s a lot of people who work here that spend a lot of time here. It’s also a neighbor and this is a great example of a neighborhood firehouse.”
The new facility is state-of-the-art with a hose system that ties into the truck’s exhaust pipes to pump out emissions. Also, a new turnout room to house and clean gear, an oxygen tank refilling station, dorms, office spaces, a massive kitchen, a balcony with views of Batiquitos Lagoon, a lounge, and a dining room table made from the shingles of old station’s roof.
Firefighter Mike Miles said the front door of the new station, located on Arenal Road, is open to the public who want to stop by and take a look if the fire crews aren’t responding to a service request. The public access can also be used for residents to walk up and report an incident.
The new 10,000-square-foot, two-story fire station can house a ladder truck — the longest of the fire department’s apparatus — and the department’s larger vehicles, which initially came as a shock to Davis and Calderwood.
The five-person crew now has access to any vehicles stationed onsite, using El Camino Real to avoid navigating tight spaces along Arenal Road. The station is also equipped with two pushbuttons to change the traffic signal so the crews can safely access the road.