Six Million Dollar Firehouse

Last year the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors earmarked six million dollars to relocate the Pescadero firehouse because of the unresolved flooding of staff’s quarters.


Recently the Pescadero Municipal Advisory Council has discussed the relocation of the Pescadero Firehouse and has encouraged local participation with the County in finding a new site for the firehouse. Now is the time to voice your ideas and concerns.


The firehouse is presently located near the Butano Creek on Public land about one mile from Hwy 1 going towards Pescadero. Around 1961 landfill was put in the Pescadero Marsh that is presently being used for the firehouse, the San Mateo County Public Works maintenance yard and the stretch of Pescadero Creek Road between them. This area is just a portion of a large county public parcel. The parcel also contains Pescadero’s water supply, telecommunications towers, a refuse transfer station and additional public works facilities.


According to Nicholas Calderon, representing Supervisor Don Horsley at the April 8, 2014 PMAC meeting, the county is in search of land for the relocation. He also said the “firehouse relocation subject” will be visited again at the April 22, 2014 Board of Supervisors Meeting.


Chances are this new firehouse will be in service for a very long time, so we need to make it very effective now and for the future.

Not preparing for weather pattern changes, fires, earthquakes, landslides and rising ocean levels is a mistake. As our Secretary of State, Senator Kerry said last week, “ if we don’t react to ” global weather changes “, the results will be  “catastrophic “.

Major disasters will in my opinion cause emergencies that should be planned for.

In our area flooding seems to be at the top of the conversation list, but we also have had earthquakes, landslides, fires and now we are in a designated tsunami zone.

A large percentage of our population is located in flood plains, canyons, on the coast and in some wider ravines.


In my opinion relocating or keeping our emergency services in a flood plain is a mistake. The potential for large amounts of water coming downhill or from the ocean should be the benchmark for relocating the firehouse to a higher elevation.


The Pescadero/Butano Creek watershed is about 56 square miles full of potential landslides, neglected forests and no active creek management programs. When mixed with major rainfall that could end up causing log jambs at various road bridges or in narrow steep portions of the creek beds.


In my opinion the firehouse should be moved from the base to the top of the “ publicly owned ” land it is located on now, for the following reasons:

  1. It is high and dry.
  2. The location remains neutral for emergency calls. [50% East and 50% West as records show up till now]
  3. You don’t have to spend money for the land.
  4. Electrical power and water are already at the location.
  5. A nicer location, then living on a busy road. Sleeping, exercising, nature, etc.
  6. Safer helicopter landings.
  7. Next to telecommunication facilities.
  8. Surface water available for washing equipment and more land for processing residuals.
  9. 24/7 security for CSA 11 water system and telecommunications.


While expediting the relocation of the firehouse, I see the new location offering important opportunities to improve other related “ emergency services “.


The Pescadero High School was chosen as the emergency services location because it’s the largest public facility in our area, yet it is located in the floodplain next to the Pescadero Creek and is on “ prime agricultural land “.


In my opinion we should build a new “ emergency services/multipurpose “ structure near the new firehouse uphill location.


San Mateo County Public Works Road Department is already using part of the uphill area to store most of its’ heavy equipment. The Road Department certainly has a key role in emergency services along with the Sheriff’s Department that fuels its’ vehicles at the lower maintenance yard. Also moving the lower Public Works operation uphill would get it out of the Pescadero Marsh and unitize its’ facilities.


In my opinion having the firehouse, the emergency services building, the road department and the Sheriffs operating from the same location makes more since and it moves them out of the “ Scenic Corridor “.


Recently at a PMAC meeting, Supervisor Horsley mentioned a directive that had come to his attention to “ soften/naturalize the old quarry “ located on the same public land. Could the landfill that the fire dept. and public works sits on be used for this project? Existing service roads from both of these locations would allow the materials to be moved to the quarry.


Using existing county public land should expedite the “ relocation “ process through the authorizing county agencies. Other agencies will be involved like with any other project in our area but the county deals with them all the time and will know up front what is expected and how to comply. The county already keeps compatible equipment onsite for similar projects.


Using local professionals will also expedite the project and create stewardship.


We should not miss out on this opportunity to get the firemen housed and functional.




Herb Hamor
Keith Gress April 16, 2014 at 05:20 PM
With all due respect, moving the firehouse to the top of the hill on Bean Hollow Road does not seem like the best fit given the current access. Moving large fire equipment up and down the existing road seems like it would slow response times. I agree that the firefighters should be moved to a more appropriate location. I am certain the firefighters know what would work best. The new location hopefully will not require them to sandbag their facility or drive through the flood waters to respond to emergencies in population centers to the east of the creek.


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