Fire station to move into Cubberley during construction

A new fire station at Mitchell Park will have public restrooms, firefighter living quarters, a captain’s office and two drive-through bays for ambulances and fire trucks. Photo from BRW Architects.


Daily Post Staff writer

The city of Palo Alto is putting a temporary fire station at the Cubberley Community Center for two years while the fire station at Mitchell Park gets rebuilt.

A double-wide trailer will go in a parking lot in the southwest corner at Cubberley just off Nelson Drive, plans show.

The temporary fire station, about a half-mile away from Mitchell Park, will have one ambulance and at least two firefighters at all times, Public Works Director Brad Eggleston said in a report to council.

The fire station at Mitchell Park, known as Fire Station #4,  is getting rebuilt in an Eichler style for $15.3 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall and wrap up in December 2025, according to the city.

Eggleston said the city looked at putting a temporary fire station in a hotel or in the parking lot for the Mitchell Park Library.

A hotel was considered for its “ready living quarters” but presented “significant logistical challenges” for fire department operations, Eggleston said.

Firefighters wouldn’t have enough storage space and charging stations for equipment, Eggleston said.

“The potential of navigating through stairs, elevators, and hotel lobbies in emergency situations would add unnecessary delays,” he said in a report to council.

Eggleston found that putting a trailer on top of 30 parking stalls at Mitchell Park would add to an already congested site.

“The Cubberley Community Center site was determined to have the smallest impact on the community, be large enough to accommodate a modular trailer, department vehicle, and equipment and, importantly, to meet the fire response area requirements,” Eggeleston said.

Consistent with the practice at Mitchell Park, the ambulance will leave the station with lights only and wait until reaching Middlefield Road before turning on sirens, he said.

The city is trying to minimize impacts on neighbors, he said.

Cubberley is home to dozens of nonprofits and youth groups that rent space from the city at a low rate. 

The city is having a community meeting about the fire station at Cubberley on April 11.

“We know there’s significant community interest,” City Manager Ed Shikada told council on Monday.

Council voted on March 4 to lease a modular station for 24 months for $222,591.

The trailer will be furnished with three sleeping quarters, an office, two bathrooms, a kitchen and an open

living area, Eggleston said. 

The trailer should be delivered in May, he said.

The temporary fire station won’t have a fire truck because Fire Station #4 has been without a fire engine since August 2021.

That leaves the closest fire hoses on the other side of El Camino Real and the train tracks for residents leaving in the southeast part of Palo Alto.

For example, the Oshman Family JCC used to have a fire engine parked 1.1 miles away at 3600 Middlefield Road.

The closest engine is now 1.7 miles away at Juana Briones Park, maps show.

Fire Chief Geo Blackshire said that he has fewer firefighters, so he is shifting resources to emergency medical services because that’s what most calls are about.

“Emergency response to the community has been seamless since the change,” Blackshire said in May 2023.

Councilwoman Lydia Kou has been pushing for the return of a fire engine at Mitchell Park, and the topic should come up during budget discussions starting next month.