I am writing to urge implementation of the planned new Hills fire station No. 7 at the intersection of Shasta and Park Gate roads. This location will provide improved response time and additional space for staff and emergency vehicles, a vast improvement over the small, poorly-located and seismically-unsafe station at the intersection of Shasta and Queens Roads. Several residents of the Park Hills area have expressed fears about the impact of the new station on their neighborhood. However, these fears appear to be greatly exaggerated. The old Fire Station has had little or no effect on its surrounding neighborhood in terms of disruptions of its quiet atmosphere or increases in traffic. The use of sirens has been kept to a minimum and the station occupants are regarded as very good neighbors. Indeed, the new location would affect even fewer neighbors, being further away from surrounding houses than at the old site. Exit of emergency equipment from the station would be improved by eliminating the blind curve hazard that characterizes the old site, actually improving the traffic situation.
Fire Department studies show convincingly (as presented at several public meetings) that the Shasta-Park Gate location is the most suitable site of many that had been considered for the new station, particularly with regard to response time for the entire territory served. The City of Berkeley should move ahead swiftly with these plans, not only to protect the hills area but that of the entire city should a wildfire begin in the East Bay Regional Parks District.
Moreover, this vital station would be the only Berkeley station east of the Hayward fault, and any further delay could be disastrous.
These points were made cogently at the July 25 City Council meeting, with presentations by Fire Department officials and a representative of the Berkeley Fire Commission. It was emphasized that input from the community will be solicited on a continuous basis, and that the size, design, and landscaping of the new station will be based on agreements with the neighbors. Contrary to the concerns expressed by some, the new station will have only two bays, and one of these will be used only during the high fire season.
I appeal to my neighbors: It is time to stop arguing among ourselves and to begin to work together for our mutual protection.
Collin G. Murphy
At the marathon City Council session July 25th, new information about the proposed hill fire station was presented by the Berkeley Fire Department and Director of Public Works Rene Cardineaux.
Supporting selection of the planned location was an analysis of response times to the hill area served that showed the proposed site permitted a short response time for the entire area that the station would serve. A rapid response-amounting to a few minutes-is vital both on medical calls for someone whose heart has stopped beating and on a run to squelch a wildfire in its earliest stages.
The new station’s area is to be between 5.000 and 6,000 square feet, instead of the larger figures mentioned earlier. The number of equipment bays has been reduced from three to two, and the facilities needed for firefighters from Berkeley and its mutual aid partners which would live in the station during time of high fire danger were justified.
The inadequacies of existing old Station No. 7 were reviewed and it was clear that its cramped single bay, the time consuming need for an engine to back out when starting a run from the station, and its dilapidated condition make a new station necessary. (It is planned to use a seismically safer Station 7 to some extent even after the proposed hills station is in service).
Finally, suggestions and comments from the community will be sought at informational meetings to be held in the coming months as detailed station design is begun.
You can obtain a copy of the council presentation by phoning Ruth Grimes, Berkeley Fire Department, at 644-6665.
Let’s work together to get this hills fire station operational before we have another in the 1923, 1970, 1984, and 1991 series of disastrous wild-land Berkeley fires.