January 19, 2022

New San Pablo fire station named for two firefighters killed in 2007 house blaze

View Original Notice ? New San Pablo fire station named for two firefighters killed in 2007 house blaze

Mittens & Max - Personalized Pet Urns-Keepsakes-Jewelry

SAN PABLO — Fire district officials hope a new station set to open in the coming weeks will boost local emergency response times, a crucial benefit for a region bereft of hospitals or medical centers.

The new Station 70 at the corner of Market and 23rd streets is named for Matt Burton and Scott Desmond, firefighters who died trying to save a couple from a burning home in 2007 just three miles up the road.

It will allow the Contra Costa Fire Protection District to move out of its current San Pablo Avenue station — a group of mobile homes that do not meet disability or fire code requirements.

“This is a state-of-the-art station, which serves as a model for other stations to be built in the county’s network,” Matt Rodriguez, San Pablo city manager, said in an interview.

The current station was intended as a temporary stopgap after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1992 had damaged the permanent station, but it has been the fire district’s San Pablo home for nearly three decades since.

This new station was designed to include modern fire safety features. It comes equipped with showers and an exhaust capture system that vacuums harmful carcinogens off the clothes of firefighters.

It will also have space for firefighters to train on-site and avoid having to commute to the district’s facility in Concord.

Construction costs totaled $13.5 million, of which the city covered $4.5 million and the district paid the rest.

SAN PABLO, CA – APRIL 13: A plaque and stone honoring Contra Costa Fire Protection District Fire Captain Matt Burton, Fire Engineer Scott Desmond, and husband and wife Delbert and Gayle Moore is photographed at the districts new Fire Station 70 in San Pablo, Calif., on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. Desmond and Burton both died trying to save Delbert and Gayle Moore from a burning San Pablo home in 2007. (Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group) 

San Pablo residents in 2014 passed a quarter-cent sales tax supporting emergency services after the fire district warned it could downsize Station 70, and ahead of Doctors Medical Center permanently closing its eight-story hospital in the city a year later. The city used revenue from the tax to pay its share of station construction costs.

District leadership believes emergency response from the new station will compensate, to some extent, for a gap in hospital availability. Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in nearby Richmond has the only emergency room beds in west Contra Costa County.

Bob Alta, a battalion chief with the fire district, said that fire response has been able to accommodate citizens’ emergency needs, but the district’s own services have been limited by budget concerns.

“We do the best that we can and it is significantly better than a lot of other places, but because of the lack of funding for many, many years, we’ve been challenged to do more with less,” Alta said.

Scott Desmond (Contra Costa County Fire Protection District) 
Matt Burton (Contra Costa County Fire Protection District) 

Burton and Desmond, the firefighters who died trying to free a couple trapped in a house blaze in 2007, embodied a culture of sacrifice that the district has since adopted, said Alta, who knew both men closely.

“In the last 14½ years, it has been a very healing process to be able to see this fire station come to fruition,” Alta said. “It brings closure to a lot of us seeing our brother firefighters be held in the ultimate regard and esteem for making that ultimate sacrifice.”

The two firefighters had rushed to the house fire on Michele Drive — in a community now known as Montalvin Manor in unincorporated San Pablo — after a delay in reporting time allowed the flames to build. They were unable to save the trapped couple and lost their lives in the process.

While their deaths left a permanent void in the district, Alta said, it was also a watershed moment that sparked a change in the department’s vision. A report released after the tragedy outlined how the district’s communication flaws led to engines operating independently of each other on the night of the fire, which left individual firefighters vulnerable to danger.

“We’ve gone from a policy-driven organization to a values-driven organization,” Alta said, describing Station 70 as a tangible improvement that goes beyond new policies and more bureaucracy. “That, in and of itself, is a paradigm shift that takes generations to make successfully.”

Construction also began last week for a new fire station in Bay Point, another upgrade for the district, which covers 304 square miles and serves 19 cities and communities across Contra Costa County.

View Original Notice ? New San Pablo fire station named for two firefighters killed in 2007 house blaze

Previous post Lynn Suzette Fedderly
Next post Harley Alfred Merritt
Mittens & Max - Keeping the Loving Memories of your pet