Letter to the Editor: Invest in new fire stations

Dear Editor:
I'm pleased that our Measure S revenue appears to be well spent so far with the onboarding of new police officers, park rangers, firefighters and other safety personnel. 

While public safety is certainly our top priority, Measure S also calls for increased spending on infrastructure, including of course, repaving of residential streets, repair of sidewalks, curbs and gutters, which are the kinds of improvements most sought by those who voted for Measure S. We also need to invest in our fire stations. 

An architect has been engaged by the city to develop plans for modernization of our fire stations, which in some cases haven't been upgraded since they were constructed.  The Fire Station improvement project is certainly an appropriate use of Measure S funds, but I think two of the stations need more than upgrading to support the present day mission of the fire service. 

Station 2 on Imperial and Station 3 on Paramount are too small to accommodate the larger fire apparatus now in use, or the support facilities within each station for the health, safety and welfare of the personnel who work and live in them. 

Instead of upgrading Station 2 and Station 3, I think Measure S revenue would be better spent on construction of new stations to replace them. 

Station 3 especially needs to be replaced. This station was built in the 1950's on a lot with water department pumping facilities which take up half of the lot. The fire station is too small for the fire apparatus which have to be backed in from traffic lanes on Paramount Boulevard, causing a safety hazard for motorists and firefighters. Modern fire stations are much larger and are designed for fire apparatus to be driven through instead of backed in. 

The lot Station 3 is constructed on is not large enough to accommodate an apparatus "drive through" design. Station 3 should be relocated to a larger lot. Coincidentally, there are larger lots just south of the auto parts store on Paramount which are underutilized that would be ideal to construct a new state of the art fire station to replace the existing, obsolete facility. 

I recommend that the architect developing the fire station modernization plans be directed to include options for construction of new replacement facilities, in addition to upgrade of existing. 

It may be more cost-effective to demolish and build new facilities instead of upgrading existing. 

Now that the voters have decided to continue to keep our fire services local rather than contracting with the County, let's invest Measure S funds in building the best facilities we can for the Downey Fire Department. 
Brian Heyman

(The author is a retired fire marshal and serves on Downey’s Building Appeals Board.)