It looks basically the same from the outside, but the renovations to Fire Station One are significant, and firefighters, city staff and the public celebrated the completion and reopening of the station Friday.

“It’s much safer, much more efficient and much more versatile,” said Andrew DiMizio, interim chief of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.

Station One, 121 W. Carrillo St., received an update and renovation to bring the structure up to state building code for seismic compliance. When the next earthquake hits, the firefighters’ own building won’t keep them from helping others.

The station was completed in 1960 and has been in use since. In 1964, the station was rededicated to C.L. Tenney, a fire chief for 26 years and instrumental in passing the bond measure that funded construction of the original fire station.

It’s a busy station, and there’s a crew of eight firefighters on duty every day of the year, 24 hours a day. During the construction process, the station remained open all the time, especially significant since construction continued through two large fires in the past year.

The $7.4 million project was funded by the city’s Redevelopment Agency, and the improvements will garner the building a LEED Gold Award from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The improvements are expected to reduce energy costs by nearly 25 percent. Crew quarters and kitchen facilities also have been updated.

“We wanted to improve the living conditions for the crew that live and work here 48 hours at a time,” administrative services manager Pete Ramsdell said.

The building also houses the city’s new emergency operations center, which will be activated during major disasters.

Ramsdell gave credit to two people who passed away during the four years in which the project went from concept to completion: John Schoof, a civil engineer and wastewater treatment manager who supported the project, and Glenn Howard, a structural engineer who helped convince backers that the project needed to be taken seriously.

Howard wrote of the potential for “severe torsional irregularity, causing the building to tear itself apart due to the twisting effects” of an earthquake.

“That sentence right there sold it to all the people that had to make the decision,” Ramsdell said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at

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