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L.A.'s oldest fire station to close?

October 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The future of L.A.'s oldest fire station is up for debate. While city officials want to replace it with a new building at another location, some local residents want the firefighters to stay.The historic building is located near the Van Nuys Civic Center. Some say the location is now inadequate for public safety.

It is L.A.'s oldest working fire station and the busiest one in the San Fernando Valley.

The 70-year-old structure gets the job done. But now the question is, should the city spend $40 million to replace it?

"Los Angeles as a whole is an area that is in financial constraints," said Van Nuys resident Monika Alexenko.

Alexenko is one of several residents with questions.

Issue one: They want to preserve the historic building. Two: Maintain its strategic location next to the Van Nuys Civic Center. And three, they want prudent spending.

"We as a community, community members, want to do things of course that make sense," said Alexenko.

Officially, the firefighters who work there have no opinion. But residents who have spoken to sources inside the department say there is a less costly alternative.

The primary improvement is to broaden the back entrance and construct a pass-through. That way the long modern trucks would not have to back into a building they have long outgrown.

Fire officials say at the top, the idea is not as easy as it sounds.

"It doesn't look like there's much room for that type of expansion," said L.A. City Fire Captain Steve Ruda. "We have an alley and then the other side of the alley is Friar Street, which has occupancies, lawyers' offices and whatnot, so there's not very much room for expansion."

There is money in the budget for a new building because of a bond measure. L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas says it is needed.

"And also the architects and the requirements that we do have by law, that when we have the ability to upgrade a facility like this we're supposed to do that because it's fire, life, and safety that we are dealing with right here," said Cardenas.

The search is on for a new location. The city plans to sell the old structure with the understanding it will be preserved.

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