Chula Vista Fire Stations in Need of Repairs; Measure P to Provide Funding

Measure P could offer some relief from these issues, giving the CVFD $48 million over the span of 10 years for equipment and building repairs.

An old fire station in Chula Vista might see some relief after residents vote to pass Measure P, which will provide the fire department with millions of dollars in funding over the next 10 years.

Station Five is one of nine fire stations in Chula Vista, and one of three buildings that has asbestos. There are also bullet holes through a front window.

"That happened nearly 25 years ago," said Darrell Roberts, President of Chula Vista Firefighters Local 2180.

"The community, they come by often and say we thought this station was closed just by the way it looks," he added.

"We see asbestos issues, we see issues with termites, issues with rotting, roof leaks," said Chula Vista Fire Department (CVFD) Chief Jim Geering.

Chula Vista's City Manager Gary Halbert says these problems are very real and the station is in "desperate need" of being fixed.

But the station isn't just falling apart.

Firefighters told NBC 7 that there are major health concerns that come with working inside, including a broken pipe that is being held together with zip ties and duct tape.

It's designed to carry exhaust from the engine outside but instead is part of the evening meal.

"All that exhaust that was supposed to go to the outside of the fire station was actually getting dispersed above the kitchen where our folks were eating," Roberts said.

But it’s not just Station Five that appears to be falling apart. Next to City Hall, Station One has warning signs of asbestos plastered on the back door.

"We defer that maintenance off year by year and those problems just get bigger and bigger," Geering said.

Meanwhile, Station Nine appears to be closed but firefighters are actually camped out in the back in trailers after a plumbing issue uncovered asbestos.

"It's certainly not what the Fire Chief wants to provide for the employees,"  Geering said.

Measure P could offer some relief from these issues, giving the CVFD $48 million over the span of 10 years for equipment and building repairs.

"This measure is aimed at the infrastructure itself, it does not include soft costs or personnel costs," Halbert explained.

But firefighters say not adding more hands on deck is a problem that is hurting the community and lengthening response times.

According to Geering, the national response time goal is arriving within four minutes, 90 percent of time. The City of Chula Vista has a response time goal of arriving in seven minutes, 80 percent of the time. 

But they've failed to meet that goal now for six years in a row, according to the City’s Growth Management Oversight Commission.

"We want to get to people in time, but without having more firefighters and stations, we're not going to be able to do that," Roberts said.

During a call for a fire, most of the time firefighters are also forced to wait for back up because the national standard says four firefighters should be on every engine.

An issue in the City of Chula Vista, since every fire engine operates with only three firefighters.

"We can't engage in an interior fire fight, unless there's somebody inside or a known rescue, until a second engine shows up. That delays all of our actions. We're not getting to people in time, and ultimately that's the difference between life and death,” Roberts said.

Halbert told NBC 7 that the City will not start getting the money from Measure P until April, 2017. In the meantime they will be meeting with the City Council to work out a spending plan.

He added that the priorities for the CVFD include updating equipment and replacing fire stations, such as Station Five.

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