SAN BERNARDINO • The San Bernardino County Fire Department is applying for stimulus funds to pay for the construction of a fire station in Amboy that will reduce emergency response time on Interstate 40. The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to authorize San Bernardino County Fire Chief Pat Dennen to apply for federal funds Tuesday. The funds will pay for the construction of fire stations near Big Bear, 29 Palms and Amboy, a city about 85 miles east of Barstow off of Interstate 40. The proposed Amboy station would handle fires, car accidents and other emergency situations on the freeway. There are no fire stations on Interstate 40 between Newberry Springs and Needles, according to Dennen. Dennen said the Newberry Springs Fire Department runs calls on Interstate 40 when they have resources available. The county fire stations in Harvard and Needles can take more than an hour to respond to service calls on Interstate 40 due to the distance the fire engines have to cover.
Dennen said the Amboy station and a planned station in Goffs, a community about 130 miles east of Barstow off of Interstate 40, would cut response time down.
“If a family is on (Interstate 40) in a minivan and it flips and they get trapped, it could take an hour for someone to get out there to help them,” Dennen said. “That makes it hard for me to sleep at night. I want to try and get a series of stations built similar to what exists on Interstate 15.” Dennen is submitting an application to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for $12.6 million to fund the construction of the three new fire stations. The Amboy station is estimated to cost $4.9 million. The funds will come from the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act Assistance to Firefighters Fire Station Construction Grant Program. The grant money will be awarded by September of 2010. Dennen said he believes the department will likely get the grant money. “The federal government is looking for projects that are shovel ready,” Dennen said. “A shovel ready project is something that can be completed in two to three years. They want something that can get people to work as soon as possible. The Angelus Oaks and Amboy stations are great examples of projects that are shovel ready.” Dennen said Albert Okura, who owns Amboy, donated the land the station will be built on to the county fire department. The county fire department’s 2009-10 budget has money appropriated to pay for the design of the Amboy station. There are also funds set aside for the construction of the station in the 2010-11 budget. Dennen said the station will most likely employ a crew of three firefighters including a captain when it opened, but staffing would increase over time. Andy Silva, a spokesman for the First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, said although the funding for the station is already in place, the grant money would allow the county to save money or use it to pay for other projects.
Proposed San Bernardino County Fire Department Amboy station by the numbers.
$4.9 million – cost to build station
13,700 – average number of people a day who drive I-40 near Amboy
60 – miles from Newberry Springs Fire Department to Amboy
84 – miles from San Bernardino County Fire Department’s Needles station to Amboy
Story by: Desert Dispatch