The Seal Beach City Council approved fire station lease agreements with the Orange County Fire Authority Monday, Sept. 13, following questions about how the space was being used and why the city was paying for the water.
The lease agreements allow the city of Seal Beach to use stations 44, in Old Town, and 48 on North Gate Road near Leisure World.
District 5 Councilman Michael Levitt asked why the city pays for the water used by the stations when the fire department uses the facilities.
Dennis Sorensen, representing the OCFA, said when the lease agreements were originally drawn up, the majority of the water used at the fire stations was for landscaping.
City Manager David Carmany said the fire fighters now do the landscaping. He said the lease agreements “memorialized” old agreements.
Sorensen said he believed Tustin has agreed to pay for the use of water at OCFA Fire Station 43.
District 2 Councilman Gary Miller asked why the city was redoing the lease for Station 44 when there was nothing new at that station.
Sorensen said the original leases were drawn up before the formation of the OCFA.
Miller asked if anything had changed.
Sorensen said the passage of 22 years has changed laws and insurance requirements related to the agreements.
Miller asked if the community center in Fire Station 48 was furnished.
Jill Ingram, assistant to the city manager, said furniture for the community center would be addressed at a future council meeting.
Miller expressed concern that Fire Station 48 had five extra dorm rooms that were not being used and that the city spent $1 million over budget on a structure that some people consider over built.
Carmany said the city was gratified to have a third operation bay available in Fire Station 48. It is currently being used to store police equipment indoors.
Carmany said the city was trying to get the OCFA to store a ladder truck at Fire Station 48.
“We’re working on that hard,” Carmany said.
“Will that third truck be an additional cost to us?” Miller asked.
“No,” Carmany said.
Miller expressed concern that the third bay did not belong to the city.
Carmany said the empty dorm rooms and empty fire captain’s office in the station actually improved the city’s chances of getting a ladder truck. The city would not have to build additional facilities to accommodate the truck, the truck and crew could just move in.
Mayor David Sloan, who spent 30 years in the Los Angeles Fire Department and five years as the fire chief in El Segundo, told the Sun that a ladder truck “is a great, big tool box.” Sloan said that when a building is on fire, three engine companies respond. Those trucks carry water and hoses and little else. He said a ladder truck carries ladders, the jaws of life and other rescue equipment.
“The fire fighters call it the ‘big stick,’” he said.
He said the ladder truck closest to Seal Beach at this time is in Westminster.