The proposed public-safety building that would house both the fire and police
departments in Holtville has been on the drawing board for nearly two decades
and delayed by a variety of factors, including lack of funds.
for the facility was pushed by then-council member Coleen Ludwig in the wake of
the 9/11 attacks in 2001, explained Fire Chief Alex Silva.
definitely needed,” said Silva. “It’ll improve response, training and
allow our guys to get the rest they need (with expanded sleeping
2007 when Holtville issued bonds to cover design expenses, the cost of the
building was approximately $3.5 million. But the project was put on hold before
publishing requests for proposals in order to implement more environmentally
friendly features such as solar panels and greener building materials.
would allow us to have an emergency operations center where we can host
training for other fire and police departments, as well as do Red Cross shelter
training,” said Silva. “We also do CERT (community emergency response
team) training. These are volunteers who help us out with a disaster.”
Proposed purpose of building
Holtville resident Milton Meeks donated 1.71 acres just north of Holt Park for
the building. At the beginning of this year, a Community Development Block
Grant fell through when the council was informed only $3 million was available
and the city had to have a plan to make up the difference for the total cost.
lot of time elapsed since the last construction estimate, the city based a new
estimate on a similar facility just completed in Winterhaven. When officials
multiplied the square footage required for Holtville’s building it escalated to
a $9 million cost, “a bare-bones estimate,” said City Manager Nick
building would be designed to house all fire department vehicles. This includes
three type 1 trucks that have a minimum of 1000 gallons per minute of water
transfer; one brush truck, used for wildland or urban structural fires; a
rescue vehicle to dispatch emergency medical technicians; a command vehicle,
which is a SUV so the chief can run the incident remotely; and a truck to
transport two sets of portable lights.
explained the department currently has four firefighters and two American
Medical Response ambulance personnel housed at the station in cramped quarters.
The sooner a new facility is built, the better, he explained, but the
department will make do with present quarters.
applied every year since 2001 but the further we get from 9/11 the more
difficult it is to get the grant. But we’ll keep trying,” said Silva.
even reached out to the office of Assembly Member Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella)
for funding. The legislator’s office recommended four possibilities: U.S.
Department of Justice, California Commission on Peace Officer Training, U.S.
Department of Transportation and the Department of Homeland Security.
having limited facilities, the fire department is capable of handling any
emergency, Silva assured. Even if the department had a new building today, it
would still put out a call for mutual aid from surrounding fire departments if
the magnitude of a fire warranted it.
building will not eliminate the need for that,” said Silva. “Similar
to El Centro with three fire stations, they still call for mutual aid. A new
building would provide more training (space) but it has nothing to do with the
gravity of the disaster itself.”
obviously fine here (in the current building),” he said. “I believe
we provide adequate service and get along well with the fire department and
the urgency to complete a new facility, Patterson noted he is not privileged to
know what the city’s budget constraints are and setting a timeline for a new
building is a decision for the city council. As of now, the law enforcement
contingent is staffed with one sergeant, two senior deputies and three
he works 40 hours per week while the deputies work 12 hour shifts rotating
between day, night and cover (overlap) shifts.
he has not reviewed with any city staff plans for a possible new facility. In
fact, he first learned of the new facility when Wells broached the subject at a
council meeting at the beginning of the year when the CDBG grant was mentioned.
not a salient issue right now,” he said. “We have multiple projects
we’d like to begin but lack resources.”