New Santa Rosa firehouse still vacant due to building code violations

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - In the upscale Fountaingrove neighborhood, one of Santa Rosa's most potentially hazardous fire zones, sits a brand new $4 million firehouse the city still cannot use.

"It's a little frustrating," said Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner.

Gossner showed KTVU the problems city building inspectors discovered.

Parts of the fire station, such as the kitchen, aren't accessible to disabled people under state building codes and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. The kitchen countertops are about five inches too high and would have to be lowered.

But when asked if the general public would have access to the kitchen, Gossner responded, "No, the only ones using the kitchen would be firefighters."

One of the showers may also need widening, and an exit door is three inches too narrow.

Neighbors anxious to get a working fire station up and running before summer say they can't believe the reason for the holdup.

"I wish they would disregard it and open the firehouse. That's what's important," said Linda Barr who lives a block from the vacant fire station.

"We're hoping the response times would be better up here. And now that it hasn't gone in, nothing has changed," said Kiirin Coburn who lives next door to the station.

State and federal laws say public buildings must be fully accessible to all, even though firefighters will be the ones working here.

"It's federal law, so it matters," said Gossner.

The city has hired a consultant to assess the problems and find solutions. That consultant told KTVU by phone the fixes shouldn't be expensive or difficult.

Meanwhile, the city is looking into why the fire station wasn't built to proper codes in the first place.