Modesto’s Oldest Fire Station is Falling Apart

MODESTO -- Modesto firefighters face dangerous situations every day, but now crews are confronted with one of their toughest battles yet -- an unsafe fire station.

“It’s really heartbreaking because it’s a beloved station for us as firefighters, for the community," Modesto Fire Chief Alan Ernst said.

Ernst says water damage from recent storms has caused Fire Station No. One's roof to leak and collapse.

There has been some buckling. At least one office hasn't been occupied in two years.

Desks, beds and other furniture have been replaced by buckets and fans.

Ernst says crews and contractors have made ongoing repairs throughout the years but, recently, the problem came to a head.

"Ultimately the recommendation was that we needed a complete new roof structure for the firehouse," the chief said.

Now, the fire department has to decide whether or not to save the 80-year-old building.

"To ensure we have a more appropriate work environment and a safer environment," Ernst said.

To repair, retrofit or rebuild could cost anywhere between $5 million and $15 million.

For now, the staff is housed in the administration building next door while the department and city leaders figure out what to do next.

"They love the building, they love their job so much that it is kind of heartbreaking that we’re looking at making some of these decisions," Ernst said.

Meanwhile, the chief doesn't anticipate much difference in response times, and city officials will discuss the issue in the next few weeks.

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