Officials break ground on fire stations in Mission Valley, Boulevard

SAN DIEGO - Officials broke ground Thursday on fire stations in Mission Valley and the East County community of Boulevard.

The more than 16,000-square-foot station in Mission Valley -- known as Fire Station 45 -- will be across Friars Road from Qualcomm Stadium, where a temporary facility has been for seven years.

The two-story structure will have 16 dormitory-style rooms and five vehicle bays, according to the city of San Diego. The project cost $11 million and will be complete by June 2015.

Two fire vehicles and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's Hazardous Materials Team will be located at the facility. The building will even use solar power to generate up to 20 percent of its energy.

The hazmat crew will move from Mira Mesa to the more centrally located new facility when it's complete, SDFRD Chief Javier Mainar said at a news conference.

The new station also will reduce response times. According to Mainar, the fire trucks now are required to make right turns onto eastbound Friars Road, even when the address to which they are responding is to the west.

Responses also are slowed when stadium events are underway, the chief said.

SDFRD Capt. Steve Duffy took 10News on a tour, but it was short because the temporary station is a double-wide trailer, which was meant to be temporary when it was put in back in 2006.

Duffy said fellow firefighters get a kick out of teasing the four-person crew.

"We've been called trailer trash," he laughed.

Duffy has spent the past 23 years protecting his community and he's been stationed all across the county.

"This one here is actually my smallest one I've been in," he said.

The renderings of the bigger-and-better firehouse are on the wall because they've waiting a long time for the fire station across the street to break ground. They all gathered across the street when it finally happened on Thursday morning.

Interim Mayor Todd Gloria and a number of City Council members pushed to make it happen.

In their current spot, the garage is also their workout area and laundry room. Crews have had to drive a rig through a parking lot packed with thousands of rowdy Charger fans, and there are times the crew has literally left the parking lot, posted up on the street corner and waited for calls to make sure they're not delayed. To make matters worse, to head west on Friars Road, they first have to turn right and then make a U-turn at the light.

"Whatever scene you go on, whatever emergency you're at, you do the best you can with what you have," Duffy explained.

Before the trailer was put in, Mission Valley residents had to rely solely on crews from outside stations.

Duffy said he's become a much bigger Charger fan being so close and was excited when the team let them use the logo for their T-shirts.

It's clear he loves what he does, but when 10News asked if there was anything he would miss about his home three days a week, he let out a hearty laugh.

"No!" he exclaimed. "I can't say there's anything I'm going to miss about living in a trailer."

The Boulevard station will serve 78 square miles of San Diego's fire-prone backcountry. The 7,866-square-foot structure will house both county volunteer firefighters and staff from Cal Fire, according to county officials.

"This is not only a big step for our community, it's an important step for the broader region," said Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents the area. "This project is the latest demonstration of the county's commitment to beefing up fire protection and emergency medical response in our rural areas."

The current Cal Fire facility in Boulevard is scheduled to be shuttered when the new station is completed, according to the county.

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