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Fire Station 1, built in 1929, is too small and does not meet current building code requirements. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
Fire Station 1, built in 1929, is too small and does not meet current building code requirements. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
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Oceanside receives $3.5 million DoD grant for new fire station 

OCEANSIDE — A $3.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense will go toward replacing a nearly century-old fire station in Oceanside.

The Oceanside City Council on Sept. 15 accepted $3.5 million in grant funds from the Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP) to build a new Fire Station 1, a project that was first conceptualized in 2006 but put on hold at the time due to lack of funds.

The $3.5 million grant will offset costs to be used by Measure X, a sales tax measure passed by Oceanside voters in 2018 that aimed to improve public safety in the city, for the fire station’s construction. A new Fire Station 1 was chosen as one of the projects to be funded by measure.

The current Fire Station 1, located at 714 Pier View Way, was built in 1929 and does not meet current building code requirements nor can it fit more staff and equipment. The new fire station will allow for three additional apparatus bays, a fire engine, a fire truck ladder company, an ambulance and a battalion chief.

“Adding these amenities will cut down on response time, especially for the ladder truck which is currently assigned to station number 7, which is located farther from the gate of Camp Pendleton and deeper into the city,” said City Engineer Brian Thomas.

Oceanside’s closest fire station to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton’s Main Gate is located 2.3 miles away. A new Fire Station 1 at 602 Civic Center Drive will improve response times to fire and other emergencies at Camp Pendleton.

Currently, 602 Civic Center Drive is occupied by the City’s Code Enforcement Division, Friends of the Library and Visit Oceanside. When construction time comes, Code Enforcement will be relocated to 3131 Oceanside Boulevard. The other two organizations are in the process of relocating.

The new fire station will have two stories and will be able to house five apparatus bays, up to twelve fire personnel, administrative offices and a training room that will allow both Oceanside and Camp Pendleton fire and public safety staff to use to update their skills. Thomas said Camp Pendleton officials submitted a letter of endorsement for the new fire station. 

The station’s exterior will match that of City Hall located on the block next to the new station along with the parking garage and the library.

To complete the design, the original conceptual plans and specifications need to be updated to comply with current building, mechanical, plumbing and fire codes and standards as well as to meet current operational needs, which have changed since 15 years ago.

In 2019, the Oceanside City Council approved an agreement with STK Architecture for the update, which has been completed and now has the project in its final design stages before it’s expected to go to bid for construction later this year.

At the same time, the Department of Defense released a grant opportunity under its DCIP program, which the city submitted an application for in July. The DCIP program is designed to address deficiencies in community infrastructure that are also supportive of a military installation in an effort to improve military family quality of life.

Construction of the station is expected to cost $18.6 million with a 20% contingency, which went up from staff’s original $17 million figure due to increased labor costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The $3.5 million grant must be matched by the city, which according to staff the city exceeds “by a significant margin.” Staff also estimated that about 22.5% of the project’s construction costs will be offset by the grant before contingency. 

City Council quickly and unanimously accepted the grant funds. Mayor Esther Sanchez expressed her excitement about the project and commended staff for acquiring the grant as well as other recent grants awarded to the city for other projects. 

“This is fantastic news,” Sanchez said. “We’ve been hearing news after news after news of grant funding, so we obviously have some shining stars among our staff who have been working on writing these grants, putting them together and being able to be successful.”