The closing of Fire Station 12 Tuesday morning is more than just an inconvenience to some people in the Mountain View neighborhood of Martinez. It’s very personal.
“This is an immensely sad event for Mountain View residents,” said Cheryl Grover, a lifelong resident of the area. “We’re losing a fire station that’s been operating for 100 years.”
The first Mountain View fire station was built in 1912 on Peach Street, Grover said. It served as a volunteer fire house and a community meeting spot. Then, as time went on, it moved to its present location. It was taken over by the county in 1966.
As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, it’s shuttered. But if Grover has her way, it’s a temporary state of affairs.
“I don’t think this is a dead issue,” she said. “I think this is where we begin talking. I think the (Fire Chief Daryl Louder) should put together a committee with our neighborhood so we can find out if a special district is feasible.”
Grover referred to an idea by city Councilman Mark Ross to consider a special benefit district in the area, where a parcel tax would fund the ongoing operations of Station 12. It and two other stations in Lafayette and Walnut Creek are being closed Tuesday, and a Clayton station shifted to operate half-time, to make up $3 million of a $17 million budget deficit Louder said was caused by falling property tax revenues spurred by the 2008 recession. Louder has warned that, absent other ideas, more stations will probably close next year.
But Grover said closing Station 12 is a mistake for many reasons, not the least of which is its proximity to the Shell Refinery.
“Shell is a terrorist opportunity,” she said. “We should be able to use Homeland Security funds.”
The other issue is more personal.
“My dad had a heart attack five years ago,” she said. “We’re just waiting for the next one. Ninety percent of people who have heart attacks have a second one. Having a nearby station with defibrillator is essential to our community.”
The other reason is historical. Mountain View consists of older homes built close together. That can lead to disaster when there is a fire.
“My parents’ home burned down because the house next door caught fire,” she said. She noted that the Brock home, also known as the Christmas House, burned down earlier this year.
The Mountain View neighborhood, which extends from Bush Street to Howe Road, and from Palm Avenue to Monterey Avenue, is an unincorporated area served by the county, but linked closely with the city. It is a close community—neighbors tend to know and watch out for each other. And Grover said that Station 12 is very much a part of the neighborhood. The next move, she said, is the county’s.
“We need to hear from them,” she said. “They need to assure us that this closure is not a permanent thing. Our lives are at stake.”