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Oceanside firefighters ready to meet safety needs of new hotel

OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Fire Department is readying to meet the emergency needs of another downtown mid-rise hotel that will open in February by conducting trainings and purchasing needed equipment to meet the challenges.

Demands hotel emergencies bring include a difficult to access underground parking garage, high stories, and guests who are unfamiliar with the hotel layout and evacuation procedures.

“With hotels added to downtown there are additional people and hazards,” Oceanside Fire Chief Darryl Hebert said.

“People are unfamiliar with the hotel, where exits are at, emergencies can happen at night when people wake up and are disoriented, we have all those rescue issues and want to be prepared as more hotels are now popping up downtown.”

Firefighters have been touring the Springhill Suites hotel on North Myers Street while it is under construction and will tour it again once it is built to become familiar with its construction and layout. The hotel will boast six levels, underground parking and 149 guest suites.

Firefighters also participate in an annual high-rise emergency training drill to keep their response skills sharp.

To address emergency responses in downtown mid-rise buildings a tight pumper truck and quint ladder truck were purchased in 2008 prior to the opening of the beachfront Wyndham Oceanside Pier Resort hotel, which has seven above ground stories and underground parking.

The tight pumper truck is low enough to enter the underground parking garage and carry water to the scene.

“It’s low enough to get into an underground garage,” Hebert said. “It carries a small amount of water. It has a pump so you can get in there and get water flowing.”

The quint ladder truck serves as a fire engine and ladder truck. It has a tiller ladder that extends 100 feet. It is also used to carry breathing apparatus and specialty rescue equipment.

Recently $268,164 of additional equipment was purchased, with Springhill Suites fire in lieu funds and matching money from the city revenue account for emergency response, to buy equipment for the tight pumper truck. Hose packs, breathing equipment and additional needed equipment was bought to enhance overall responses, following City Council approval of funds this January.

Firefighters also face the limitation of having one fire station west of Interstate-5. Fire Station No. 1 on Pier View Way and North Coast Highway is a small station that houses a crew of five firefighters.

The quint ladder truck is housed at the larger Fire Station No. 7 on Mission Avenue and Foussat Road, over 3 miles from downtown and a 7-minute drive.

“It’s quite a drive,” Hebert said.

The city is considering opening another fire station in the downtown beach area.