SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - SAN DIEGO (CNS) - After nine years of operating a temporary fire station in Mission Valley, the city of San Diego celebrated the grand opening of an $11.1 million permanent facility Monday morning.
The new station actually became operational last week on Friars Road across the street from Qualcomm Stadium. The temporary location was in the stadium's parking lot, which fire officials said caused delays in responding to calls.
The two-story building is the first-ever permanent San Diego-Fire Rescue Department station in Mission Valley, and the first built in the city overall since 2008. The 16,290-square-foot structure houses an engine and truck, along with a dormitory for 16 firefighters and a hazardous materials team.
"This station gives us so many opportunities to better serve the residents of Mission Valley and the city," said Fire-Rescue Chief Javier
"The addition of a truck here has been needed for some time and improves our response for fires and rescues," Mainar said. "Moving the
hazardous materials apparatus from Mira Mesa puts them in a more centralized location to be able to respond citywide. While we operated well from the temporary station, this facility is immeasurably better."
Mission Valley is one of 19 areas in San Diego listed in a consultant's report issued five years ago as being priorities for new stations.
Another neighborhood listed in the report, Skyline, is being covered by a temporary firehouse opened in August. A third, Encanto, underwent a one-year experiment with a two-man Fast Response Squad designed to beat regular firefighters to an emergency scene and assess the situation or begin rescues and medical aids.
The fire department says it cut response times in Encanto by nearly 30 percent. A second unit is expected to begin operating in University City early next year.
Some other fire stations are on the drawing board. While some are paid for with developer funds, others are competing for municipal dollars with other infrastructure priorities, like roadway fixes and repairs for city buildings -- including several deteriorating fire stations.
"My goal is to make sure the city is investing more in neighborhood infrastructure, and we're starting to see results with projects like this,"
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. "New fire stations are just one of many ways we're working to boost public safety in neighborhoods that need it most and to make sure we're providing a more equal level of service across the city."
The next new fire station is scheduled to open in 2017 on Pacific Highway, serving areas along San Diego Bay west of Interstate 5.
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The City of Chula Vista is making a push to hire more officers as the city's population continues to steadily grow and the police department said it does not have enough officers to keep pace.
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San Diego was the safest big city in the United States last year in terms of murders, while the San Diego-Carlsbad metro area had fewer violent crimes in 2016 than all but three of the 20 largest metropolitan areas in the country, according to statistics released Monday by the FBI.