Closed fire station in Los Cerritos may increase response times, fire chief says

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Long Beach fire crews moved out of Fire Station 9 in the Los Cerritos area in June, and the station closed its doors due to mold.

[Editor’s note: The Signal Tribune newspaper is expecting a phone call from 6th District Councilmember Al Austin to discuss Fire Station 9’s closing, and it will update the article accordingly.]

Fire crews from Fire station 9, located on 3917 Long Beach Blvd., officially left the Los Cerritos station last month, leaving some residents concerned about how the closure will impact emergency response times. The discovery of mold and the buildings relatively small size prompted the closing, according to city officials.

According to the Long Beach Fire Department, station 9 closing down will cause an increase to response times for emergency calls.

During the Aug. 13 Long Beach City Council meeting Xavier Espino, Long Beach Fire Department chief, updated the council about achievements the department had completed for Fiscal Year 2019, and the challenges it faces in the near future.

Following Espino’s presentation, 6th District Councilmember Al Austin asked about a status update on station 9.

“We’ve met with public works, with health [and] city management, and we’ve determined that we’re at an all stop right now on any further work on station 9 at this point and time,” Espino said.

An emailed statement from the fire department on Aug. 20 stated that Rescue 9 paramedic unit has temporarily relocated to Station 13 located at 2475 Adriatic Ave.– approximately four miles away– and Fire Engine 9 and its personnel have temporarily relocated to Station 16 located at 2890 E. Wardlow Rd.– about three miles away.

Fire crews that were previously stationed at Fire Station 9 have been ordered to patrol the community during the day where the station is located.

“Having both those units out of place has increased response times,” Espino said. “They do patrol during the day. They stay in the engine 9 area.”

Before Measure A, the city did not have a dedicated source of revenue that could be used to invest in preventative measures for infrastructure maintenance, Long Beach Public Information Officer Kevin Lee said.

Tom Modica, Long Beach assistant city manager, said the Fire Station 9 had extensive infrastructure challenges, which prompted the building’s closure.

“We have had major infrastructure challenges at that facility,” Modica said during the Aug. 13 council meeting. “That is one of our older fire facilities, and we were having safety issues and we investigated them, and eventually got to the point; because we’ve not been able to invest the infrastructure dollars that we’ve needed to over many many years then we had to shut it down.”

The Signal Tribune contacted Austin’s office for comments concerning the station’s closure and increased emergency response times but did not receive a response within press time.

During the meeting, Austin and Espino mentioned that the ultimate goal would be to find a new location for Fire Station 9.

As of press time, city officials have not identified a property that would suit the needs of a new fire station.