News

Rebuilt Fire Station No. 3 helps reflect modern firefighter workforce

Faster opening garage doors and new fuel station to quicken response times

When Aaron Lacey, Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department deputy chief of administration, looked back on his time working at the recently rebuilt Fire Station No. 3, one of his first comments was on the prison-like showers.

"It was the gym, then it was a shower in the restrooms," he said. "It was like a big gang shower ... it did not meet the modern 21st century fire service."

But that all changed as city officials and roughly 80 Pleasanton residents celebrated the completion of the station's rebuild on Nov. 18. The project included demolishing the original one-story building, located on 3200 Santa Rita Road, and creating a new two-story building with modern firefighter tools and amenities, gender neutral bathrooms and private dorm rooms.

Dozens of Pleasanton residents gather outside of the main entrance of the rebuilt Fire Station No. 3 to witness the official ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 18. (Photo by Christian Trujano)

"The former fire station had some challenges and we wanted to ensure health and safety for our firefighter personnel, but also provide components and essential upgrades that are required for a fire station to operate successfully," Mayor Karla Brown told the crowd of residents and staff who gathered inside the main garage area of the station.

According to the city, staff identified the need to replace the old station in 2016 after a study reported "deteriorating physical condition of the building as well as its inability to deliver services expected of a modern fire department."

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

But, as with most things, construction was delayed because of the pandemic.

"I will say if you're considering building a fire station, I would highly recommend you not launch that project as the global pandemic begins," LPFD Chief Joe Testa said during the ribbon cutting ceremony. "It has been a journey for everyone involved."

However, the project quickly got back on track when the city awarded the construction contract to Mar Con Builders in August 2020, which led to last year's temporary relocation of the Fire Station No. 3 staff so work could get underway.

The total cost, including design, demolition of the old building, constructing and then removing the temporary station, and constructing and outfitting the new station was approximately $9 million, according to the city.

During a walkthrough of the new facility, Lacey, who had worked at the old station for seven years, said that while the seismic and structural problems with the building were a main component of the rebuild, it really boiled down to fitting the modern day firefighter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

He said they are a growing diverse group of people who represent their communities and provide essential services -- so the least they deserve is a facility that can properly serve them.

"The original station had more cubicle living," Lacey said. "So it wasn't private dormitory rooms, everything was kind of an open floor plan."

He said the bathrooms were the same way, making it a problem for women who had to use a shower in what was called the "company officer bathroom," which was secluded from the main showers.

"When I first got hired here, it was like going into your typical 1970s college gymnasium," Lacey said. "It didn't match the 21st century fire service."

The gender neutral bathrooms with individual showers are just some of the new amenities that the 12 firefighters who work and live at the station can enjoy on the little spare time they get in between their long shifts.

One of the two gender neutral restrooms in the second floor of the rebuilt Fire Station No. 3. (Photo by Christian Trujano)

Lacey said that everything from the refurbished day room, modernized kitchen and renovated gym helps create an area where these first responders can call their second home.

"In the fire service, we always say, the fire department is like a home away from home," Lacey said. "We call each other brothers and sisters because it's like a second family. A lot of these firefighters spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their own family."

Other main components of the rebuild that Lacey also pointed out were the several safety aspects such as the negative pressure fan that helps suck out the exhaust that is produced by the massive fire truck that carries a 100 foot aerial ladder.

Lacey goes over the negative pressure air ventilation systems that helps suck the fire truck car exhaust and any other hazardous smoke particles out of the station. (Photo by Christian Trujano)

When that truck pulls out after responding to a call, the exhaust in the garage gets sucked into a ventilation system and gets released through the roof. That type of ventilation system is present throughout the facility to help minimize the chance of any smoke-related hazards in the air -- something that firefighters don't need more in their lungs.

"We're exposed to carcinogens," Lacey said. "(There is a) high probability that most firefighters are more susceptible to different types of cancer. So if we can make our facilities as safe and as possible for our employees and our workforce, that's our goal."

On the operations side of the improvements, one of the biggest things that Lacey and city officials pointed to was the replacement of the sliding garage doors with new bifold doors. The reasoning is that the sliding doors take longer to open, meaning the bifold doors, which open horizontally, will lead to improved response time.

"Our response times will be reduced, our overall personnel are in a modern facility, which helps them do their job more effectively," City Manager Gerry Beaudin said at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Another big improvement was a fuel cell for the firetruck, which means the truck does not have to travel outside of its service district to refuel anymore.

While the old station did have one before, Lacey said it had some environmental issues, which put it out of service.

Some of the upgrades to the fire station include a fuel station for the fire truck so that it doesn't have to go across town to refuel. (Photo by Christian Trujano)

"Our goal in the fire service is to always have our operational units within their district at all times," Lacey said. "The older station didn't have a fuel station so it would cause our unit to leave its district all across town on either side in order to get fuel."

The station floor plan also reduces response times by centralizing the apparatus bay entrance, which is now easily accessible from anywhere in the two-story station. The second story is accessed by either stairs or the newly built elevator, which Lacey said is a step away from the traditional pole.

He actually said that most fire departments are moving away from the iconic pole that people are used to seeing firefighters on because of related injuries.

Other site improvements for the new station include: parking for personnel and the public; an emergency generator; sustainable landscape and irrigation systems; and a solar reflective roof to help mitigate heat gain in the summer.

"Pleasanton is the 'City of Planned Progress', and we want to diversify our workforce. We want our workforce to match the communities that we serve and the older station wasn't a facility that supported that mission," Lacey said. "I think the city of Pleasanton has done a terrific job with making diversity, equity inclusion a top priority in the city and they put their money where their mouth is."

Pleasanton residents gather inside the fire station garage on Nov. 18 to witness the reopening and to get guided tours of the newly rebuilt facility. (Photo by Christian Trujano)

A front row seat to local high school sports.

Check out our new newsletter, the Playbook.

Christian Trujano
 
Christian Trujano, a Bay Area native and San Jose State alum, joined Embarcadero Media in May 2022 following his graduation. He is an award-winning student journalist who has covered stories in San Jose ranging from crime to higher education. Read more >>

Follow PleasantonWeekly.com and the Pleasanton Weekly on Twitter @pleasantonnews, Facebook and on Instagram @pleasantonweekly for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Rebuilt Fire Station No. 3 helps reflect modern firefighter workforce

Faster opening garage doors and new fuel station to quicken response times

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Nov 29, 2022, 5:17 pm
Updated: Wed, Nov 30, 2022, 10:57 am

When Aaron Lacey, Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department deputy chief of administration, looked back on his time working at the recently rebuilt Fire Station No. 3, one of his first comments was on the prison-like showers.

"It was the gym, then it was a shower in the restrooms," he said. "It was like a big gang shower ... it did not meet the modern 21st century fire service."

But that all changed as city officials and roughly 80 Pleasanton residents celebrated the completion of the station's rebuild on Nov. 18. The project included demolishing the original one-story building, located on 3200 Santa Rita Road, and creating a new two-story building with modern firefighter tools and amenities, gender neutral bathrooms and private dorm rooms.

"The former fire station had some challenges and we wanted to ensure health and safety for our firefighter personnel, but also provide components and essential upgrades that are required for a fire station to operate successfully," Mayor Karla Brown told the crowd of residents and staff who gathered inside the main garage area of the station.

According to the city, staff identified the need to replace the old station in 2016 after a study reported "deteriorating physical condition of the building as well as its inability to deliver services expected of a modern fire department."

But, as with most things, construction was delayed because of the pandemic.

"I will say if you're considering building a fire station, I would highly recommend you not launch that project as the global pandemic begins," LPFD Chief Joe Testa said during the ribbon cutting ceremony. "It has been a journey for everyone involved."

However, the project quickly got back on track when the city awarded the construction contract to Mar Con Builders in August 2020, which led to last year's temporary relocation of the Fire Station No. 3 staff so work could get underway.

The total cost, including design, demolition of the old building, constructing and then removing the temporary station, and constructing and outfitting the new station was approximately $9 million, according to the city.

During a walkthrough of the new facility, Lacey, who had worked at the old station for seven years, said that while the seismic and structural problems with the building were a main component of the rebuild, it really boiled down to fitting the modern day firefighter.

He said they are a growing diverse group of people who represent their communities and provide essential services -- so the least they deserve is a facility that can properly serve them.

"The original station had more cubicle living," Lacey said. "So it wasn't private dormitory rooms, everything was kind of an open floor plan."

He said the bathrooms were the same way, making it a problem for women who had to use a shower in what was called the "company officer bathroom," which was secluded from the main showers.

"When I first got hired here, it was like going into your typical 1970s college gymnasium," Lacey said. "It didn't match the 21st century fire service."

The gender neutral bathrooms with individual showers are just some of the new amenities that the 12 firefighters who work and live at the station can enjoy on the little spare time they get in between their long shifts.

Lacey said that everything from the refurbished day room, modernized kitchen and renovated gym helps create an area where these first responders can call their second home.

"In the fire service, we always say, the fire department is like a home away from home," Lacey said. "We call each other brothers and sisters because it's like a second family. A lot of these firefighters spend more time with their co-workers than they do with their own family."

Other main components of the rebuild that Lacey also pointed out were the several safety aspects such as the negative pressure fan that helps suck out the exhaust that is produced by the massive fire truck that carries a 100 foot aerial ladder.

When that truck pulls out after responding to a call, the exhaust in the garage gets sucked into a ventilation system and gets released through the roof. That type of ventilation system is present throughout the facility to help minimize the chance of any smoke-related hazards in the air -- something that firefighters don't need more in their lungs.

"We're exposed to carcinogens," Lacey said. "(There is a) high probability that most firefighters are more susceptible to different types of cancer. So if we can make our facilities as safe and as possible for our employees and our workforce, that's our goal."

On the operations side of the improvements, one of the biggest things that Lacey and city officials pointed to was the replacement of the sliding garage doors with new bifold doors. The reasoning is that the sliding doors take longer to open, meaning the bifold doors, which open horizontally, will lead to improved response time.

"Our response times will be reduced, our overall personnel are in a modern facility, which helps them do their job more effectively," City Manager Gerry Beaudin said at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Another big improvement was a fuel cell for the firetruck, which means the truck does not have to travel outside of its service district to refuel anymore.

While the old station did have one before, Lacey said it had some environmental issues, which put it out of service.

"Our goal in the fire service is to always have our operational units within their district at all times," Lacey said. "The older station didn't have a fuel station so it would cause our unit to leave its district all across town on either side in order to get fuel."

The station floor plan also reduces response times by centralizing the apparatus bay entrance, which is now easily accessible from anywhere in the two-story station. The second story is accessed by either stairs or the newly built elevator, which Lacey said is a step away from the traditional pole.

He actually said that most fire departments are moving away from the iconic pole that people are used to seeing firefighters on because of related injuries.

Other site improvements for the new station include: parking for personnel and the public; an emergency generator; sustainable landscape and irrigation systems; and a solar reflective roof to help mitigate heat gain in the summer.

"Pleasanton is the 'City of Planned Progress', and we want to diversify our workforce. We want our workforce to match the communities that we serve and the older station wasn't a facility that supported that mission," Lacey said. "I think the city of Pleasanton has done a terrific job with making diversity, equity inclusion a top priority in the city and they put their money where their mouth is."

Comments

jart1
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2022 at 10:52 am
jart1, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 30, 2022 at 10:52 am

Thanks for the good article about the new Fire Station No 3. which has it's own fire sprinkler system.
(Looks bad on the report if the fire house burns down!)

Another benefit of the side opening folding truck doors is that they are less likely to jam in case of an earthquake, when it is important that the doors can be opened quickly so the fire engine and fire trucks can respond!
Very often fire houses have this problem, with roll up doors, even some very new ones designed by companies that supposedly specialize in fire houses!

I'm sure the article had a typo, and did not mean to say this would cause "increased response times", perhaps they meant "improved response times!"

Another thought is they might consider battery backup (like a PowerWall) for the power, so they don't need to start a fueled generator.

James Art
Fire Protection Engineer
Pleasanton


Gloria fredette
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Nov 30, 2022 at 2:43 pm
Gloria fredette, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Nov 30, 2022 at 2:43 pm

Living near the firehouse for almost 44 years - Enjoyed the tour of the newly rebuilt House- wonderful upgrading to a new century! So happy the iconic stove was refurbished and returned to Engine House #3! The lil grands can’t
wait for a tour!


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.