Goleta’s City Council voted last week to begin the process of building a new fire station.
The proposal — made in light of delayed response times and a disproportionate population-to-firefighter ratio — aims to improve Goleta’s services in times of emergency. The station will eventually replace an old Chevron gas station on Hollister Avenue after any residual pollutants or contaminates are removed from the site.
Director of Public Safety Vyto Adomaitis said the council’s decision is just the beginning of a long process towards building the new Fire Station 10 and addressing the area’s fire-related issues.
“Last [Tuesday’s decision] authorized staff to complete environmental and biological studies to see if the site would be suitable for a fire station,” Adomaitis said. “The actual decision to build a fire station hasn’t [officially] been made yet.”
During his presentation to the City Council, Fire Captain Martin Johnson explained that in order for a fire station to provide adequate protection, it should have a response time of less than five minutes and have a population-to-firefighter ratio of 2,000 to one. The maximum ratio that any one station can serve adequately is no more than 4,000 to one.
Currently, Fire Station 11 in Goleta has a population-to-firefighter ratio of 7,198 to one. Such a high ratio indicates the difficulty for firefighters to effectively respond to emergencies and poses a danger for residents who lay outside the five-minute response mark.
Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. Capt. Glenn Fidler said the problem stems from the western area of Goleta.
“We have response time zones of five minutes mapped out for each fire station to cover,” Fidler said. “The western portion of Goleta is inefficient in their response times. There’s a void in the western section of Goleta, and we are trying to fill that.”
Fidler said that while the station will take more than a year to complete, there are no short-term plans to address the inadequacies of the current system during this period, leaving areas outside Station 11’s five- minute mark at potential risk.
According to 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr, the establishment of the fire station is critical for countywide emergency services.
“Even though the station is located in Goleta, it is still a part of Santa Barbara Fire Department,” Farr said. “Anything that I can do to be helpful of the firefighters and the public safety I am extremely supportive of.”