area that is too big for its eight-member team. But a new $2.5
million fire station will reduce the strain facing the department
and should be up and running by mid-February. The project was
started in January of this year and is about 95 percent complete,
said Chief Bill Garringer of Hollister Fire Department.
Hollister – Hollister’s fire department is understaffed and patrolling an area that is too big for its eight-member team. But a new $2.5 million fire station will reduce the strain facing the department and should be up and running by mid-February. The project was started in January of this year and is about 95 percent complete, said Chief Bill Garringer of Hollister Fire Department.
The station, located at the corner of Union Street and Airline Highway, is necessary because the fire department is not always able to respond within four minutes, said Garringer. That’s the desired time to for rescue personnel to respond to the scene of a medical emergency, a car accident or a burning home, Garringer said. However, the new station won’t completely close the gap between available and needed services.
“We’ll be better off with the station, but we are still about three people short,” said Garringer.
The department currently does not have enough money to hire new staff, but hopes to secure funds next year through a federal grant that will dole out some $65 million dollars to fire departments across the country. The new fire station will have three people –a captain, driver and firefighter – during any given 24-hour shift.
The completion of the new fire station comes at an opportune time as the city’s development continues to expand, said Luis Aguilar, project manager for the city’s engineering department who oversaw the construction of the station.
“Population is growing … and we need to provide safety services that correspond with that,” he said.
The proximity of the station to Highway 25 and the fact that the city already owned the land, were primary reasons the new station was built there, said Aguilar.
Currently, the fire station at Fifth and Sally streets serves all of Hollister, a community of approximately 37,000 people. Besides the current fire station within the city of Hollister, the county operates a department that is under contract from the California Department of Forestry, while San Juan Bautista has an all-volunteer force.
With the exterior of the building nearly finished, developers are focusing on last minute, albeit important details, such as installing phones, paving the driveway and landscaping around the station. It’s expected to be finished in January.
Meanwhile, a new task force which includes residents, city council and fire chiefs from local departments, has been meeting over the last five months to discuss ways the county can solve the shortage of services and provide a quicker response time in emergencies.
“We’ve gotten involved to discuss things like how dispatch will be handled, where funding will come from and whether it would be worthwhile to have a regional response,” said Scott Fuller, vice chair of the task force and vice president of San Juan Oaks Golf Course.
The task force was formed under the leadership of mayor Tony Bruscia, who will be replaced by another City Council member once he steps down December 13.
Karina Ioffee covers education for the Free Lance. Reach her at (831)637-5566 ext. 335 or [email protected]