Modernized fire station opens in Tomales, with expanded capacity


Yesterday, firefighters started their first shift in the brand-new Tomales Fire Station, after working in temporary quarters down the road for the past year and a half. For a total bill of $6.7 million, the county razed the 48-year-old station and rebuilt the modernized facility from the ground up. “The place looks great, and we’re grateful to our [Department of Public Works] friends for their hard work on this project,” senior fire captain Tom Nunes said in a press release this week. “This investment in the northwest corner of the county will provide a great base of operation to support emergency activities in the region, especially during times of disaster.” The fire station serves the largest area of any station manned by Marin County Fire, including the towns of Tomales, Marshall and Dillon Beach, along with Chileno Valley. The department is aided by a volunteer force. The original station was designed according to the county’s resident fire warden model, in which one firefighter equipped with a single engine managed a crew of local volunteers. But over the years, the department’s services expanded from brushfire and structural fire containment to include emergency medical support and water rescue. To house new equipment, the department tacked on three garages. Yet a fire facilities vision plan released by Marin County Fire in 2010 found that the Tomales station did not meet modern fire facility requirements, including seismic codes, equipment capacity and service demands. The necessary improvements required a complete redesign of the building. Following the 2010 study, the Board of Supervisors began setting aside reserve funds to pay for the upgrade. The new 8,653-square-foot building provides enough space to house three fire engines, water rescue equipment and, during fire season, a five-person Cal Fire crew for wildland fire protection. The facility was designed to meet certain environmental standards under a green building certification program called Leadership in Energy Environmental Design, or LEED: the site includes bio-retention areas for stormwater management, solar panels, an electric vehicle charging station, an emergency generator and water storage tanks. During construction, Marin County Fire personnel operated out of a temporary facility at 26701 Highway 1, a half mile away from the renovated station.