Signs taped to the entrances of Guerneville’s fire station warn people that it’s risky to step inside — an unusual message for a building dedicated to public safety. It turns out this Russian River firehouse is among an aging group of unreinforced masonry structures in jeopardy of collapse in a major temblor.
“You may not be safe inside,” the sign reads, “during an earthquake.”
Which is precisely the time when those stationed in the building and their equipment would be needed to respond to rescues and aid calls in the event of a major quake, wildfire or flood in the area.
Just down the road, Monte Rio’s 1950s-era fire station is in similar shape, as is Cazadero’s — all three don’t pass modern seismic standards that decades ago forced universities, hospitals and many other commercial and residential landlords to pursue costly upgrades for the sake of public safety.