Long Beach officials eye new site for Fire Station 9 construction

About $7,761,510 was identified via Measure A tax funds to fund relocation and construction.

4150 Long Beach Blvd., between Carson St. and San Antonio Dr., has been identified as a potential new permanent site for Fire Station 9

Courtesy the office of Councilmember Al Austin

4150 Long Beach Blvd., between Carson St. and San Antonio Dr., has been identified as a potential new permanent site for Fire Station 9

Long Beach Fire Department (LBFD) Chief Xavier Espino updated councilmembers on Wednesday, Jan. 29 of a new location that will potentially serve as the construction site for Fire Station 9.

“Staff are in productive discussions with the property owner at 4150 Long Beach Blvd.,” Espino stated in a memo. “This site appears to be very promising and an excellent location for service to the community. Ongoing negotiations have been productive. [City] staff hope to bring a recommendation to the city council in closed session in the first quarter of 2020, and with city council approval, in open session shortly thereafter.”

The new location is less than a mile away from where the former station is located.

While negotiations finalize for the new building, Espino said the old station will be demolished and temporary structures and containers will be installed to house firefighters.

Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin, who oversees the district where Fire Station 9 was located, stated in an emailed letter to his constituents that the demolition would prompt an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act.

The EIR is estimated to be completed in June 2020, Austin’s memo stated.

In September, the city council approved $1,514,645 to fund relocation efforts and $3,246,865 for property-acquisition and construction costs for the next three years.

Espino’s memo stated that an additional $3 million was identified, however, could be used if there was surplus revenue from Fiscal Year 2019. In total, about $7,761,510 was collected via Measure A tax funds, according to the memo.

Fire Station 9, originally located at 3917 Long Beach Blvd., was closed last summer because of mold in the building that was reportedly making firefighters sick. Rescue 9 was relocated to Station 13 and Engine 9 was relocated to Station 16.

The temporary closure prompted multiple concerns from the public, who questioned the city’s methods to allocate funds to build a new station and worried the station’s closure would impact emergency response times.

As previously reported in the Signal Tribune, Austin and top LBFD brass hosted a community meeting on Aug. 27 to address the neighborhood’s concerns.

During that meeting, Both Espino and LBFD Deputy Fire Chief Jim Rexwinkle confirmed the station’s closure did increase average response times by one minute. They also added that response times had decreased in other regions as a result of the rescue engine relocation.

In Wednesday’s memo, Espino stated “they have seen a minimal impact on response times,” as rescue and fire engines were relocated to other stations.

City staff will bring a recommendation during a closed session to the city council in the first quarter of 2020. If council approves, it will move to an open session.