Thursday, September 29, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 31

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 10th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 24 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 24

Santa Barbara County Fire seeks new location for Solvang fire station

By Caleb Wiseblood

A parking lot across the street from Solvang City Hall could be the future site of a new fire station, depending on the outcome of a Santa Barbara County Fire Department study.

Solvang’s current fire station, County Station 30, is located in the same building as City Hall at 1644 Oak St., which has raised “several concerns” over the years, county Fire Chief Mark Hartwig wrote in a letter to City Manager Xenia Bradford.

“Those concerns involve security, exhaust, noise, and privacy,” Hartwig wrote. “Regarding security and privacy, often members of the public request to use the station restrooms. The layout of the building does not offer opportunity for a convenient public restroom in the station, and members of the public must venture through the engine bay, day room, and living space area to reach the restroom.”

During the Solvang City Council’s Aug. 8 meeting, Santa Barbara County Fire Department fire chief Mark Hartwig discussed building a new fire station in Solvang, rather than fund future upgrades to the city’s current station, which is among the oldest stations in the county.

Firefighters at the Solvang station are required to do daily checks with chainsaws and other equipment, “exposing anyone in the vicinity to noise and exhaust,” Hartwig said. 

Although there is a ventilation system installed in the building shared by City Hall and the fire station, the system “is not 100 percent effective at removing exhaust gasses, particularly from portable power equipment,” he wrote.

Hartwig added that “station personnel do their best to be quiet during business hours and especially during City Council meetings.

“However, a fire station is a 24/7 operation and it isn’t always conducive to a quiet environment,” he continued.

During the Solvang City Council’s Aug. 8 meeting, Hartwig made the case for building a new fire station, rather than fund future upgrades to the current station—one of the oldest fire stations in Santa Barbara County, according to the staff report

The Solvang station has been in operation, originally under a volunteer fire department, since 1931, according to the county Fire Department’s website.

“The upgrades that would need to be made for this building would probably be more expensive than building a new station,” Hartwig said during the meeting.

Hartwig said that the county Fire Department hired Citygate to conduct a study on future upgrades the department should expect to implement over the next few years. 

The final results of the study should be ready in a few months, he added, which the department expects to include a recommendation to build a new fire station in Solvang.

The department’s current proposal for the new site is a parking lot across the street from City Hall, but other location options will be considered as the process moves forward, according to the staff report. The purpose of the Aug. 8 presentation was to get the concept on Solvang City Council’s radar far in advance, Hartwig said.

Councilmember Mark Infanti said he personally hopes there will be alternative locations to consider when the time comes, as he’d prefer to keep the space, known as Parking Lot 5, for parking purposes.

“We’ve been trying to get that as a parking lot for years, and now you want to take it away,” Infanti said with a laugh. “So it’s not our first choice, if I may say that. Or, it’s not my first choice. Sorry, I have to make that personal; I don’t know what the rest of these folks think.”

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