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Pasadena In Focus
September - October 2011

What Pasadena’s Aging Fire Stations Mean for You

IMG_3480The city was recently forced to close neighborhood Fire Station 39, near Avenue 64 and Colorado Boulevard, because an independent safety audit showed it posed a “significant risk of structural failure” in a major earthquake.

Unfortunately, while Station 39 is our oldest and most unstable fire station, others are also vulnerable. According to the assessment, seven out of eight of our fire stations need significant repairs, upgrades or replacement in order to withstand a major quake. Fire Station 32 in the center of town was deemed barely habitable and it’s also lost major response capacity; we were forced to remove vital equipment, including the urban search and rescue truck, because the equipment bay is unstable. Another five out of six of our small, remaining neighborhood fire stations are now operating at – or even over – capacity. They’re not able to house vital firefighting equipment, and aren’t configured for the fastest deployment necessary for firefighters to respond to medical emergencies or fires.

The reason for our dilemma is simple. Unlike surrounding communities, where fire stations were mainly built after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake, most of Pasadena’s stations were built decades earlier. Many have concrete frames, which seismic experts say won’t withstand major shaking.
In Southern California, the question is not “if” there is going to be a major quake, but “when.” It’s very important that our community be able to rely on our firefighters for quick response. In recent years, we’ve seen first-hand how poor disaster preparedness has led to costly, life-threatening errors at all levels of government – both in the U.S. and abroad.

As part of our disaster planning, it was our responsibility to evaluate how our fire stations – many of which are beautiful and historic, but also old and outdated – would perform. Now that we have this information, we can work together to determine the most prudent and fiscally responsible solutions.

We want to hear your ideas! Please visit www.cityofpasadena.net to read the Fire Station FAQ, view the completed Fire Station Safety and Response Assessment Report and complete a quick community survey. Questions? Contact the city’s emergency management coordinator at 744-7276 or lderderian@cityofpasadena.net.