City leaders address reported misinformation on Fire Station 9, claim city is looking for new temporary location

Sebastian Echeverry | Signal Tribune
Long Beach City Manager Assistant Tom Modica estimated the cost of a new fire station would be about $10 million to $15 million during a public meeting on Aug. 27 concerning Fire Station 9 closing down.

Members of the Uptown community converged at the Expo Arts center in Bixby Knolls Tuesday evening to hear the latest updates from Long Beach City officials concerning Fire Station 9’s closure.

Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin invited City Manager Tom Modica, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna and Long Beach Fire Chief Xavier Espino to answer questions from the public. Councilmembers from the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th council districts were also present at the meeting.

Austin said he organized the meeting in order to dispel myths and false information that he claimed had been shared across Nextdoor and other social media platforms.

“I want to let you know that my office has been very deliberate and transparent as we can possibly be at the council level to make sure that you are informed in a timely manner, and have been informed in a timely manner,” Austin said.

He added that his staff had worked on creating newsletters that provided updates on various topics around the city, including station 9.

Response times
One of the main talking points concerning Fire Station 9’s closing was the impact to response times.

Both Espino and LBFD Deputy Fire Chief Jim Rexwinkle confirmed the station’s closure did increase average response times by one minute. They also revealed that response times have decreased in some regions of the city because the fire crews and engines were now closer to other parts of town as a result of the temporary relocation.

Sebastian Echeverry
Long Beach Fire Chief Xavier Espino talks with residents during a public meeting on Aug. 27 concerning Fire Station 9 closing down.

“What we will see is an increase in response time because the fire station is not in service at its former location,” Rexwinkle said. “On an average, in station 9’s area, what I’m seeing so far into this current redeployment is about a one-minute increase in response times. That’s an average across the entire area. Some areas will see a greater impact, some areas will actually see a reduction in response times because the fire engine responding from Wardlow and Cherry– some of the areas over there– will actually have a shorter response time.”

Rebuild cost
During the meeting, residents repeatedly asked officials what the city was planning to do to re-establish a fire station where station 9 once operated from.

Assistant City Manager Tom Modica estimated that it would cost about $10 million to $15 million to construct a new station. He added that this sum did not include land cost, demolition costs and building-design funding.

“Station 9 will likely need to come down and be demolished,” he said.

Modica estimated that it would take about 120 to 160 days to locate a property near Los Cerritos to establish a temporary fire station.

“We are having our teams go out there to see if there’s anyway we can salvage the building and continue there,” he said. “From everything we’ve seen so far, it is such an old station with such amount of degradation that we need to look at the next solution.

Although officials stated that Fire Station 9’s closure is a top priority to address, they are still looking for land in the area that could house station 9. They did not provide a clear-cut funding plan or timeframe as to when construction can begin.

“We will be putting that out as soon as we know it,” Modica said. “We’re going to look at how we can use city land, how we can build from a previous design–– we’ve already designed temporary facilities for different structures–– to try to bring that number down to make this a realistic project.”

[Editor’s note: Click the document link below to see a timeline of Fire Station 9’s closing, provided by Austin’s staff.]