The Encinitas Fire Department will station a new "fast response" engine on North Coast Highway under a one-year pilot program intended to reduce response times for the North Leucadia/Saxony Canyon area, under a plan approved on Aug. 22 by the City Council.
The council voted unanimously to fund the pilot program at a cost of $711,000 for the first year. That total includes both startup costs and ongoing costs for the program.
The new response vehicle will be stationed at a parking lot on North Coast Highway, where a now-closed Cabo Grill restaurant is located. A trailer will be installed for firefighters to use when they are on-duty. A fire captain and firefighter/paramedic will staff the new vehicle 12 hours per day, for seven days per week, at peak hours, which are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., although those times could be adjusted.
The city will lease the vehicle from the county for $1 per year, and the property owner will lease the land for the trailer and vehicle, also for $1 per year.
Historically, fire department response times have been higher in the North Leucadia/Saxony Canyon area than in other parts of the city, said Fire Chief Mike Stein, and the pilot program is intended to bring response times down.
During the pilot program, current staff will be assigned to the new engine on overtime, rather than hiring additional firefighters, Stein said. The target date for putting the new engine in service is Nov. 1.