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NCFPD approves lease agreement with CalFire for dozer on Station 3 land

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The North County Fire Protection District and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had been discussing a lease agreement to house a CalFire dozer barn at NCFPD Station 3 in Rainbow. An actual lease agreement was approved at the Tuesday, Dec. 12, NCFPD board meeting.

The 5-0 vote approves a tentative lease agreement in which CalFire will pay $1,000,000 for the construction of the dozer barn and will lease the space for $1,560 per month. The board action also directed NCFPD staff to execute a change order in the construction contract with TELACU Construction Management to include the dozer barn.

“It will be a benefit to our district,” NCFPD fire chief Keith McReynolds said.

After the California Department of Corrections closed the Rainbow Conservation Camp in the 8200 block of Rainbow Heights Drive CalFire took over that facility. The Rainbow Conservation Camp was one of four inmate firefighting camps in San Diego County, and two of those were closed.

The firefighting equipment including the bulldozer used for clearance or other access when needed remained at the Rainbow Conservation Camp. CalFire is the primary agency responsible for fire protection in Rainbow Heights, and Rainbow is also within the boundaries of the North County Fire Protection District.

The CalFire dozer has been deployed to locations other than Rainbow, including during the December 2017 Lilac Fire. Not only is Rainbow Heights Road remote compared to some of the areas which have required the dozer’s deployment, but the street is a long meandering narrow roadway with steep grades and sharp turns.

“It’s kind of a dangerous location for that dozer to be housed,” McReynolds said.

NCFPD Station 3 is at the northeast corner of Fifth Street and Rainbow Valley Boulevard, and CalFire expressed interest in locating the bulldozer there.

“We were approached by CalFire,” McReynolds said.

A 5-0 NCFPD board vote, May 23, directed staff to explore the possibility of a dozer barn facility lease agreement. That vote did not authorize approval by NCFPD staff, so once agreement was reached at the staff level the lease would return to the NCFPD board for approval. The staff determination was that a construction/lease agreement would be the best option to cover the cost to construct the facility and to provide the fire district with ongoing lease revenue.

The North County Fire Protection District was created in 1986 when the Fallbrook Fire Protection District merged with the county service area which provided fire protection to Rainbow and Gavilan Mountain was added to the new district. The Rainbow Volunteer Fire Department retained its autonomy, and the Rainbow fire station became NCFPD Station 6. The station was renamed Station 3 in 2018 when the original Station 3 in Olive Hill was closed due to the relocation of Station 5 in Bonsall. The Rainbow Volunteer Fire Department was consolidated into the North County Fire Protection District in 2018.

What is now Station 3 was built in the 1970s. Because the Rainbow fire station utilized a volunteer fire department, living quarters were not incorporated into the design. A January 2022 NCFPD board vote recommended conventional construction rather than a modular building for the Station 3 upgrade.

The January 2022 vote also authorized NCFPD staff to hire a construction management company to oversee the design-build process for the Station 3 renovation. A request for proposals was issued, Erickson-Hall was the lowest responsive bidder, and the May 2022 board meeting approved a $395,340 contract with Erickson-Hall for construction management services to renovate Station 3.

The Erickson-Hall scope of work included three phases; the planning phase involved the request for statements of qualifications for the construction contract, the request for proposals and the preparation and selection of a design team.

TCM, which is based in Orange, was determined to be the preferred contractor for the design-build services. A 5-0 NCFPD board vote, April 25, directed district staff to execute a contract with TCM for design-build services of Station 3. That action also allocated $3,500,000 of funding for the fire station and authorized an additional $350,000 for potential change orders. Initially the contract covered $387,762 for the design phase and the construction will likely be authorized following the completion of the design.

A guaranteed maximum price and schedule will be established following the completion of the design. Once the design is completed NCFPD staff will ask the board for a contract amendment to include the guaranteed maximum price for actual construction. The contract will be established on a cost plus fee basis with the guaranteed maximum price, and the contract will be structured so that all savings are returned to the fire district.

Not including the dozer barn, the Station 3 construction would involve renovating 777 square feet of the existing station while adding 1,740 square feet to the current station. The back apron is being designed as part of the station renovation, and that is the likely location for the dozer barn.

The state’s Department of Governmental Services has approved up to $1 million for the dozer barn construction. The final cost will be determined after successful negotiation with TCM of a guaranteed maximum price and a contract amendment.

“It will fully cover the cost of construction,” McReynolds said.

The change order with TCM to design the dozer barn adds $16,024 to the contract amount. The construction costs will include planning and design, permitting, construction management services, construction, staff and legal counsel time.

The dozer barn addition will also become part of the San Diego County permitting process. McReynolds believes that county approval for the station renovation will occur between March 2024 and June 2024.


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