Broken water heater forces closure of Oakland hills fire station ahead of Red Flag Warning

"It's incredibly disappointing that our fire station is not up to par, that our infrastructure is not up to par."

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Monday, July 19, 2021
Oakland fire station forced to shut down during Red Flag Warning
Just as the Bay Area gets ready for a Red Flag Warning and possible dry lightning, a fire station in Oakland had to shut down this weekend.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In the East Bay, the Red Flag Warning comes just as a key fire station in the fire-prone Oakland hills is closed, at least for the weekend, thanks to a malfunctioning water heater

This sign says it all at Station 25 in the Oakland hills, a station closed up tight and no firefighters inside.

Zac Unger is the president of the Oakland firefighters' union. He says without hot water, firefighters and paramedics can't be safe when returning from calls.

RELATED: CAL FIRE adds extra crews ahead of Bay Area Red Flag Warning, dry lightning threat

"I'm incredibly concerned that Station 25 is closed," said Unger, president of the International Firefighters Local 55. "Today it's a water heater in this station so that our members can't de-con after COVID calls, after calls where they're in contact with blood, after calls where they go to fires and are in contact with carcinogens."

Station 25's water heater was supposed to be fixed Friday, but then stopped working again. The soonest it will be repaired now is Monday, hopefully.

"It's incredibly disappointing that our fire station is not up to par," said Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao, who represents District 2, where Station 25 is located. "That our infrastructure is not up to par, because we know that if there is a wildfire, we know how fast they travel and every single second counts."

RELATED: Track wildfires across San Francisco Bay Area, other parts of California with this interactive map

For now, the fire crews from Station 25 have been temporarily relocated to another station, nearly two miles away.

It's a reality that doesn't sit well with residents who know their neighborhoods are tinder dry and there's dry lightning on the way.

"It's unfortunate that the water heater is broken in the fire station, which needs water," said resident Oliver Newell. "That shouldn't be happening in this area, period."

Oakland Fire Department Spokesperson Michael Hunt issued this statement to ABC7 News:

"The unexpected closure of Station 25 is frustrating and concerning. The department is working diligently to immediately fix the issues that need to be corrected at Station 25 while ensuring we meet our mandated response times. Addressing the issue of rapidly aging fire houses and fire apparatus was a core priority for Chief Freeman when he became Chief two months ago, and has only grown in importance after many station visits and conversations with Fire personnel.

He is working with labor leaders, station crews, and the City Administration to develop a Capital Improvement Plan that will accurately document and prioritize the Fire Department's infrastructure needs to ensure events like this don't occur again."

"This neighborhood pays taxes to have a fire station right here," said Unger. "And now, with no fire engine in Station 25, the response is going to be coming from further away and that is always dangerous."

VIDEO: See incredible video of lighting strikes, thunderstorms across SF Bay Area

Mother Nature is putting on quite a display Sunday morning. ABC7's cameras around the Bay Area captured some amazing shots of the lightning show.