Dave Schwab | Downtown News
Council President Todd Gloria and Councilmember Kevin Faulconer have dug deep into their own office pockets to come up with the $10,000 needed to renovate one of the City’s oldest fire stations, located in Little Italy.
The two city councilmembers were joined by San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Javier Mainar and Fire-Rescue Capt. Becky Newell on Feb. 11 to officially launch the remodel of Fire Station 3 at 725 W. Kalmia.
“Fire Station 3 began operations at Fourth Avenue and Laurel Street in 1900,” said Gloria, noting the station has been at its current location since 1977. “While we can still operate fairly effectively from this location, parts of this building are really showing its age.”
The improvements to be made at Station 3 are far from cosmetic, Mainar said.
“The purpose of the fire station here is to serve our community as a base from which to operate,” said the fire chief. “But for firefighters, it serves as a home-away-from-home for the often more than 24-hour shifts they spend in the station.”
Mainar said renovations will also improve the firefighters’ sleeping quarters.
Noting it’s important for firefighters to get “down time” to sleep during their long shifts, Mainar also said, “They need to get away from people like me who tend to snore.”
“It’s really great to be partnering on this,” said Faulconer, who represented Little Italy for seven years until a redistricting change following the 2010 census. Now the councilmember for the city’s second district, Faulconer pointed out Little Italy’s Fire Station responded to more than 1,700 incident calls last fiscal year.
“Using the funds from my and Council President Gloria’s budget, Fire Station 3 will receive permanent upgrades to their dormitory area and partitions will be constructed to separate each crew person’s bunk, resulting in improved living conditions for the personnel assigned here 24 hours a day, as well as accommodating co-ed crews,” Faulconer said. “I’m proud to help improve the daily quality of life for the brave men and women of the Fire and Rescue Department who protect our quality of life every single day.”
Gloria said the needs of Fire Station 3 are indicative of a shortfall of firefighting services citywide.
“The City of San Diego needs somewhere between 12 and 22 new fire stations, and countless more of our current 47 stations are in need of repairs and renovation,” he said. “As it stands now, the repairs are often completed by our firefighters in between fighting fires and responding to medical emergencies.”
Mainar said there isn’t a start date yet for Fire Station 3 rehabilitation, but added once work starts the project won’t take long as it largely involves constructing partitioned walls.
“The $10,000 we got from councilmembers Gloria and Faulconer, plus funds the community has raised, is a great jump-start,” Mainar said. “That is always the first challenge. How do you fund a project like this, even though it’s really necessary, because there are just too many competing priorities sometimes?”
Mainar said firefighters “appreciate the affections this community have given this fire station,” adding that they “feel privileged, honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve our community.”
Dave Schwab came to San Diego 30 years ago with a journalism degree from Michigan State University. He has worked for numerous dailies and weeklies and now freelances for a variety of regional publications. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, hiking, sports and spending time with friends. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org