I appreciate the concerns expressed regarding our third fire station. This letter will present the facts related to the location of Fire Station No. 3, the funding, the bid process, the award and its operations.
Location: Fire Station No. 3, located on the west quadrant of El Centro, completes the strategic placement of stations to provide fire services to our community in the decades to come. There is no fire station west of Imperial Avenue or north of Adams Avenue to respond to fire and medical emergencies on the west and northwest side of the city. The need for a west side station is based on the need to improve the response time by fire and medical crews.
With Station No. 1 at State Street and Eighth Street and Station No. 2 on Dogwood Road, it is evident by inspection that the west side of the city lacks sufficient fire safety coverage. During the past eight years, several city councils have reviewed and consistently endorsed this improvement in fire safety services.
Funding: The funding for the construction of Fire Station No. 3 is from the Redevelopment Agency long-term bond, which does not use city general funds for repayment. The RDA is required to follow California contract and bidding laws, which require awarding the construction contract to the lowest responsible bidder. No special preferences are permitted under this law.
Pre-bid process and outreach for subcontractors: The bid process conforms to California state law. The bid specifications were adjusted to increase opportunities to local contractors with input by a committee that included members of the El Centro Chamber of Commerce, the local construction community, city staff and the council. No member of that committee was a bidder for this contract.
The prime contractors that were the selected finalists were required to meet with local subcontractors. This was achieved a special pre-bid meeting that was hosted by the city. In attendance were more than 75 local subcontractors including representatives of the local labor organizations.
Award of contract: The award of the contract adhered to all rules and regulations. The contracting process under California state law requires that contracts be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. The contract was awarded to the lowest responsible bidder. Unfortunately, no local prime contractors bid on the project.
Operations: The city has budgeted for operations of Fire Station No. 3 and has been hiring and training fire crews during the past year to prepare for the station opening.
The latest addition has been the promotion of fire captains from within the organization to supervise the new crews. The fire engine had been previously purchased and is being used by the new crews.
The new fire station will advance fire and medical emergency responses for the residents and businesses in the city of El Centro.
Sedalia Sanders is El Centro mayor.