Work is set to start next month on a new fire station in the Fountaingrove area that initially was opposed by some residents who said it didn't belong in an upscale hillside development.
The Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a construction contract for the approximately $4 million station in one of the city's most hazardous fire areas.
“Within the city we have wildland-urban interface areas — some call it a high fire severity area,” Fire Chief Mark McCormick said of the potential for big grassland and tree fires. “This is one of those areas.”
Santa Rosa Fountaingrove Fire Station
He said Fountaingrove has some of the slowest emergency response times.
“Right now in the Fountaingrove area, 21 percent of calls are over five minutes,” he said, adding that with the new station “we will see an improvement.”
Three years ago, the need for faster response times was not the foremost concern of a group of neighbors near the proposed station at the corner of Fountain Grove Parkway and Newgate Court.
They appealed unsuccessfully to the City Council to overturn approval of the firehouse, saying it would generate excessive noise, traffic, create aesthetic problems and pose dangers to children playing in the area.
But a larger number of residents were in favor of it, including the Fountaingrove neighborhood association.
“They were very supportive,” said McCormick, who added that the association worked with the fire department on the design of the new station so it wouldn't clash with the pricey homes.
Conceptual drawings and images of the two-bay, 5,300-square-foot station make it look more like a house, with plenty of wood board siding and flat roof tiles.
“When you come in, you don't see a fire station, but it fits into the neighborhood,” McCormick said.
Other parts of the city, including Oakmont and Bennett Valley are also classified as high fire hazard areas because of extensive vegetation.