History of North Fire Station (NFS)
As one travels up California Route 1, it's easy to miss the North Fire Station--one's eyes are drawn to the now-famous chapel next to it. Because of its particularity and visibility, the chapel's design and construction story are well-known. Its neighbor, the North Fire Station, is another example of the energy and community effort which have characterized TSR from its inception, and many talented and dedicated members helped make it possible. Its history is closely linked to that of the VFD, which begins with the earliest development of TSR.
Like the requirements for roads and utilities, provision for fire protection must be proposed by a developer in California. TSR's developer, Oceanic, initially sketched out an 'Industrial Fire Brigade', and the Volunteer Fire Department ('VFD') was organized, with Oceanic's encouragement, in 1973. The original fire station--the 'Mendosoma FFS (Forest Fire Station)'--was way up Skaggs Springs Road, near what's known now as the YMCA Camp. This was ok to satisfy the county's requirements, but when building started on TSR the need for something rather more convenient rapidly became clear. The VFD soon started working out of the 'Old Firehouse', rapidly built for the task, on Verdant View. It now houses the Sea Ranch Water Company, and the old sliding doors for the fire truck can still be seen on its west wall. Again, as TSR grew further, the need for a larger station and professional staffing became apparent. TSRA, with help from the Oceanic, arranged a contract with the CDF (California Division of Forestry, now rebaptized CAL FIRE) for such staffing. Oceanic also arranged for a land transfer to allow the construction of the Main Fire Station on Annapolis Road. The design for the Main Station was, by state requirement, produced by the Office of the State Architect, although TSRA's Design Committee approved the plans. The Main Fire Station is owned by CAL FIRE, and the CDF staff formerly at the Mendosoma FFS transferred there.
At about this time, Dan Levin arrived at the ranch. He went to a VFD training session, and was immediately signed up as a volunteer--and eventually became the first VFD chief, a position he held for over 30 years. He soon realized the need for a volunteer station that was not close to the main station, partly to spread risk, but also to be more convenient to the majority of the volunteers. In collaboration with CDF Fire Captain Richard Anderson, then the program manager for CDF’s Sea Ranch program, he led the push for a much-needed volunteer fire station, and, with Don Jacobs and Mike Ott, was responsible for the design of the North Fire Station. Oceanic agreed to donate the necessary land. There were two options for the funding of the station--first, to create an assessment district and impose a tax; or second, to encourage community participation via donations. The second option was chosen, and a vigorous fund-raising effort undertaken, with a forceful and effective direct mail solicitation, which raised $200,000--and TSRA chipped in $50,000.
At the time $250,000 was enough to get started, but significant help was needed from VFD volunteers, who performed a lot of grunt work, and from the subcontractors drafted by Matt Sylvia, the dean of TSR contractors at the time. The completion, after 2½ years of work, was celebrated with a big party, in 1986.
The North Fire Station has served us well--although not as eye-catching as the chapel, it's a significant architectural landmark. Like all structures at TSR, it needs constant maintenance. The current siding is venerable, and needs replacing--but the funds from the county don't cover this. We are currently engaged in efforts to collect the necessary funds to keep it handsome and serviceable. In 2009 and 2010 various projects have been completed by the volunteers, including repainting the station interior and replacing the window blinds. The largest part of the project is yet to come: the replacement of the weathered redwood siding. The department is grateful to have received a donation of "HardiePlank" cement fiber siding, which will help with the total cost of the project, but the remaining costs of removing the old siding, repairing whatever damage may or may not be found beneath, and staining and installing the new siding are substantial. At this time the details of the project are being worked out, with as much "unskilled" labor as possible being done by the volunteers. So far, the rough cost estimate is around $60,000.
The department will need donations from the community to see this project to completion. Work is expected to start in the summer of 2012. We hope you will consider donating to TSRVFD to help this project along!