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By Clyde Noel

While invited guests were standing in the shade of old oak trees, fire commissioners sat in the heat of the noonday sun, June 29, to dedicate a new $2.6 million El Monte Fire Station on the Foothill College campus. The air conditioned station, serving the Los Altos County Fire Protection District, was open for public tours after the morning dedication.

The new 9,650-square-foot two-story fire station replaces the old station 1,000 feet away on the Foothill campus. The original station, built in 1963, needed repairs and upgrading considered too costly. In the meantime, Foothill officials offered a new building site.

"With all the public agencies involved in building a new firehouse, we needed a team effort to get this completed," said Sid Hubbard, new Los Altos Hills mayor and a member of the County Fire Protection District.

Since the building was located on community college property, the new station needed the blessing of the state, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Los Altos Hills City Council and the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees.

"We are very proud the building came within budget. The $2.6 million it cost to erect the building was taken from reserves," Hubbard said. "We don't have to increase taxes to support this structure, and we obtained a long 100-year lease from Foothill College for $1 a year."

The fire station took 13 months to complete from the architectural plans of David Takamoto and Associates. The fire station bays were designed as a drive-through to eliminate any safety hazards.

Two sliding poles are provided in separate areas from the second floor to the first floor apparatus room to provide quick access.

The structure also includes four bathrooms, two with separate facilities for male and female, and an exercise room.

Stu Farwell, fire marshal for the fire district, spent 37 years in the district and helped participate in the design and layout for the station.

"This building is a home away from home for the firefighters," Farwell said.

"There is even room for the monthly fire commission meetings to be held in the conference room."

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