|Fire Station 7, located on Bradley Road near McCall Boulevard in the Sun City section of Menifee, will eventually be relocated, according to fire officials.|
Menifee city officials were briefed today by a Riverside County Fire Department chief on plans for the relocation of two County fire stations to new facilities in the city.
According to Batallion 13 Chief Jorge Rodriguez, decades-old stations in the Sun City and Quail Valley communities of Menifee do not meet current codes and are not worth remodeling. Officials hope to build new stations near the current facilities in the next two to three years.
The discussion took place at the first meeting of the re-established Menifee City Public Safety Committee, a city council subcommittee that was recently re-appointed for the first time since 2010. City Council representatives John Denver and Tom Fuhrman, Interim City Manager Rob Johnson and other city officials will meet regularly with county fire and police officials to discuss and evaluate public safety in Menifee.
This meeting focused on local firefighting resources. Rodriguez told committee members that of the four County fire stations located within the Menifee city limits, two are considered outdated and will be replaced.
"The stations in Quail Valley and Sun City are still at 1970s standards," Rodriguez said. "They are back-in stations with no ventilation for diesel fumes. The doors between the engine area and the sleeping quarters are not sufficiently sealed to keep the fumes out. It's not a healthy situation, and they wouldn't be worth remodeling."
Top priority on the list goes to Station 7, located on Bradley Road just north of McCall Boulevard in the Sun City area. According to Rodriguez, it is the busiest fire station in Riverside County, making more than 4,000 calls per year. A large percentage of those calls are medical calls for seniors living in the community, but fire department policy dictates that an engine crew answers every call as well as paramedics and an ambulance.
In order to adequately serve that area, county fire officials plan to relocate to a new facility. That site has not been determined, but Rodriguez said county officials are looking at acquiring a portion of the 6-acre plot of land at the corner of Bradley Road and Cherry Hills Boulevard -- a vacant lot that is the former site of the Kings Inn hotel (left).
Rodriguez said that details must still be worked out, but it is likely that the county would purchase the land and the city would be responsible for the building costs.
"The plan being discussed is for the county to deed the new station to the city," he said. "The county would probably keep the old site."
The second outdated facility, Station 5 (below), is located at the top of the hill on Goetz Road in Quail Valley, across the street from a Circle K store. Plans call for that station to be shut down sometime in the near future and relocated about a mile and a half to the southeast on Goetz Road, near Vista Way and closer to Canyon Lake.
Rodriguez said there are no major concerns about Stations 76 (Menifee Road and Newport Road) and 68 (Murrieta Road and Wickerd Road). Each of the four stations in Menifee has an engine and emergency squad vehicle, and the city has one "heavy truck" -- a large engine with a 100-foot ladder.
Roidriquez said Menifee's combined firefighter force is 56, a number which will go up to 62 on July 1. The addition of more stations will be considered as housing development in the city continues. Rodriguez especially mentioned the Encanto Apartments development near McCall and Interstate 215 and Audie Murphy Ranch as developments that will increase the need for fire personnel.
The City of Menifee's proposed budget for 2013-14 lists $7.2 million for fire services -- 32 percent of the overall budget. The city's structural fire tax revenue does not nearly cover the cost of fire expenses, however. Additional funds are taken from property and sales tax to pay for the remainder of the fire services cost.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012 -- the most recent figures available -- the city's fire tax revenue totaled $3,806,526. Fire department expenditures for that year were $6,664,145 -- a difference of $2,857,619.