Potential for new South Lake Tahoe Fire Station 3 on the horizon

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The South Lake Tahoe City Council gave staff the go-ahead to move forward with a new Fire Station 3 rather than repairing the aging, existing station during the Tuesday, Sept. 12 meeting. 

Fire Station 3, which is located at 2101 Lake Tahoe Blvd was built in 1957. In 2021, staff initiated a survey to assess the cost of doing minor repairs. That survey showed it no longer meets building codes or Americans with Disability Act requirements. 

A cost analysis to bring the building up to code, make the necessary repairs and temporarily relocate staff showed a potential price tag of over $5 million. The potential cost was eventually reduced to about $3.5 million, however council asked staff during a March 2023 meeting to bring back other project alternatives. 

During Tuesday’s meeting, staff presented the original plan and presented three additional plans. 

Option A would provide minor internal renovations to improve living conditions for staff. Option B was the originally presented plan to do major renovations of the existing building to bring it up to code. 

Both Option C and D would include construction of a new firehouse. Option C would be a two-story structure behind the existing fire house and Option D would be a new building on the Bank of Montreal lot adjacent to the firehouse, which the bank has offered to sell to the City. 

Council approved staff to move forward with building a new Fire Station 3.

Staff has recommended using Options C or D and Fire Chief Jim Drennan told the council he would prefer Option D, because of safety concerns of a two-story firehouse. 

The new single-story firehouse would include five beds for a staff of three, which would allow them to have an ambulance service in the future or double staff during red flag days. The roof would be pitched to prevent snow load issues and to allow for storage in the attic. The attic would be built big enough that office space could be placed in it in the future if need be. 

Option D would have an estimated $19.75 million price tag with an additional $1.1 million to be Leed Gold certified and to build a traffic light on US 50. 

The beginning of the project would overlap with the completion of the new recreation center, so the city will be able to use bonds to pay for the fire station. 

In the meantime, minor upgrades will be done to the existing fire station, to make it liveable. Some of those upgrades include new furniture and equipment that can be moved to the new station once it’s complete. 

Mayor Pro Tem Cody Bass floated the idea of the creation of a firefighting foundation in the region to help cover the costs.

A representative of the local firefighters’ union, Al Martinez said they were in support of Option D. 

The council approved staff to move forward with creating plans for Option D.

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