Fire Station 8, located at 7643 Santa Monica Blvd., in West Hollywood, was listed as a Los Angeles County-owned concrete structure that has been deemed vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake. The building also meets the established criteria for retrofitting according to a list released by LA County, which singled out 33 structures considered to be non-ductile concrete buildings that were built before 1978 and have multiple stories.
At a Public Safety Commission meeting this past Monday, newly sworn in Commissioner George Nickle expressed concerns about the safety of the building. He asked Captain Drew Smith of the LA County Fire Department for an update on the retrofitting to the building, which could happen in the next ten years.
Captain Smith revealed that Fire Station 8 is currently looking at proposals for a new station and that they are looking for a much larger property in West Hollywood. “That station is quite aged,” he said “As our aparttus gets bigger, we know that parking is an issue everywhere in West Hollywood…there is a lot that needs to go on at that station to get it up what we would like to see, but it takes time. The best option would be a larger piece of land with a larger station that gives us room to grow. That station was built with room to grow, but we have outgrown it.”
Captain Smith said that Station 8 would move to the right station at the right space that gives them the expansion they need. He pointed out that there is not a lot of open land in West Hollywood, so they are looking at how they are going to do it tactfully because they can’t close down a station until they have a new property to move to maintain their level of service.
Regarding the building being vulnerable to collapse, he said that their construction and maintenance do annual inspections and that if they see any damage, the Los Angeles Fire Department has a significantly robust maintenance and construction division. Experts can come in and make retrofitting to the structure if necessary, but he said he doesn’t believe the building is there yet.
It is not yet clear what the future of the building will be if Fire Station 8 moves to a new location.
Completed in 1953, Fire Stations 8 is described by the Los Angeles Conservancy as a “lovely example of Mid-Century Modern design, representing a huge increase in construction to keep up with the postwar population explosion and housing boom.”
Fire Station 8 has been operating for the past 70 years. The station is a simple three-story building with typical fire station necessities like double-height roll-up garage doors and space for both working and living, on-site. It boasts a clean Mid-Century Modern design clad in smooth stucco and roman brick, flush window bays that wrap around a corner, curved canopies over the garage and main entrance, and geometric punch-outs in the canopy over the third-floor balcony. Despite its three-story height, the building is modest in scale and has a strong horizontal feel so it melds very well with the low-scale streetscape around it and can sometimes go unnoticed.