Palo Alto demolishes Rinconada fire station | News | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto demolishes Rinconada fire station

City breaks ground on long-planned replacement project

Palo Alto City Councilwoman Lydia Kou, far left; Mayor Liz Kniss, left; and Councilman Greg Scharff, far right, stand with Fire Chief Eric Nickel, third from left, and fellow firefighters as they ceremoniously break ground on the new fire station at the corner of Embarcadero and Newell roads on Jan. 30, 2018. Photo by Veronica Weber.

After 70 years of service, Fire Station 3 at Rinconada Park in Palo Alto was reduced to rubble Tuesday morning.

Well before council members and City Manager James Keene sank their ceremonial shovels into the soil in front of the Embarcadero Road station, cranes had begun their work in the back of the small station for the 6,663-square-foot project.

Much of the one-story building had been reduced to debris by the time Mayor Liz Kniss made her welcoming remarks to a few dozen dignitaries, residents, contractors and firefighters at a sunny ceremony.

"We're going to have an up-to-date fire station with art, with a water station, with bike licensing," Kniss told the assembled crowd. "This will be your all-purpose fire station."

Over the next year, crews will replace the 1948 station at 799 Embarcadero Road with one that is larger, more seismically sound and more functional. Fire Chief Eric Nickel noted that when the city had built Station 3, the fire department consisted of 23 people with a limited mission: fighting fires.

Since then, the mission of the department has changed. So have its needs, Nickel said.

"As the community has grown, as the community's needs have grown, we have become an all-risk organization," Nickel said. "We respond to many things other than fire."

As a result, department has outgrown the 1948 station that was 3,454 square feet, which according to Kniss had cost the city $50,000 at the time.

The station was also one of the projects identified as a top priority in a 2011 report from a specially appointed infrastructure committee. The report found that the station "lacks sufficient space for modern equipment and does not meet current seismic standards." The report also noted that both the Rinconada station and the one at Mitchell Park "lack sufficient space for emergency supplies, lack safe separation of living quarters from the fumes of engines and hazardous materials, and can barely hold the two engines located as each of those vital pieces of equipment have grown in size and capacity over the years."

Nickel noted that some of the engines the department uses today cannot fit in the Rinconada station along with an ambulance.

The council approved in November a $5.9 million contract with Strawn Construction to replace the Rinconada fire station. In his opening comments, City Manager James Keene said he was pleased to see that the demolition -- initially planned for Wednesday -- had already begun.

"I'm so glad to see you're ahead of the schedule already!" Keene said.


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15 people like this
Posted by Tanya
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 30, 2018 at 8:07 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by BP
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 30, 2018 at 9:30 pm

[Post removed.]

4 people like this
Posted by Nickster
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 31, 2018 at 4:48 am

Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by blatt
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 31, 2018 at 10:36 am

I remember, as a kid growing up in the neighborhood, taking my bike to that fire station for a license and riding past it on my way to swim at the Rinconada pool. Will miss seeing that good 'ol building but no doubt, it needed updating.

2 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2018 at 1:26 pm

3,454 square feet for a fire station of 23? That is smaller than some houses in Palo Alto.

I suppose South PA will start talking about the upgrade.

Perhaps there will be tours when it's completed. Will be able to take my teens since I never had time for it in the past.

1 person likes this
Posted by PAmom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2018 at 4:03 pm

When will we have a fire station closer to the hills?

26 people like this
Posted by Explanation
a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 31, 2018 at 4:19 pm


Closer to the hills? You know that the modern problem with wildfires is that the forest fires are not allowed burn naturally because people are invading the woods with their homes and so now they firefighters need to go in and rescue the homes (and people) that shouldn't have been there in the first place!

Like this comment
Posted by Billy
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 31, 2018 at 8:04 pm

There is one in the hills it’s just not open or something. The next closest station uses the fire engine crew to also work an ambulance so hopefully they aren’t needed.

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