1. #1
    District Chief
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    Default Estero Fla--Fire Dept struggles to keep up with community growth

    Bonita Daily News

    Estero Fire District races to keep pace with community's growth
    Thursday, April 10, 2003

    By PAUL HERRERA, phherrera@naplesnews.com

    In two months since firefighters first moved into Estero's newest station on Corkscrew Road, calls have kept the group busy.

    The station, located in front of the Stoneybrook community approximately a half mile east of Interstate 75, is now the primary facility responding to emergencies in the fast-growing neighborhoods of the eastern Estero Fire District.

    "We've reduced response time out there by somewhere between 70 and 80 percent," said Estero Fire Chief Dennis Merrifield.

    With huge chunks of land permitted for development in the eastern edge of the fire district, and potentially thousands more acres and homes winding through the development pipeline, Merrifield said the growth eventually will require another station farther east to meet needs.

    Since last March, the fire district has celebrated the opening of stations on U.S. 41 and Three Oaks Parkway slightly south of Corkscrew Road prior to moving into the Stoneybrook station. Next spring, another station will open, this one to be located on U.S. 41 in the southern part of the district on land provided by developers of the Coconut Point Town Center.

    "We've been playing catch-up for a while now," Merrifield said. "The community has literally exploded over the last 10 years."

    The new station shaves several miles and minutes from response time to communities east of the interstate. Communities like Wildcat Run, Miromar Lakes, Grandezza and Stoneybrook are all well within a five-minute response goal, said Estero Fire Marshal Michael Cato. Those communities will grow by thousands of new residents within the next few years. Farther east, a community called The Habitat is permitted and ready to begin construction.

    "I've got nine years of fire experience in Southwest Florida and this is probably the fastest-growing fire district around," said Rob Medina, one of 12 firefighters working in three weekly shifts at the Stoneybrook station.

    In addition, the station is equipped with a new brush truck to transport firefighters to fires well off the road in eastern Lee County. On Wednesday morning, the station's crew washed mud and dirt off a brush truck that assisted on a 500-acre fire in east Bonita Springs on Tuesday night.

    The public is invited for the grand opening and dedication this morning. Estero Fire officials will offer tours of the station once the event begins at 9 a.m.

    Following the Coconut Point station, the next station could be part of a fire training complex located several miles east of the interstate on Corkscrew Road. The fire district is looking for a tract of up to 40 acres of land where new firefighters could be trained and veterans can keep up with required refreshers and new skills courses.

    Merrifield declined to say how much the district could spend on the acquisition, citing that it could hurt negotiations and make a future purchase more expensive to the agency. Early estimates put the cost of the entire project at $11 million.

    Currently most firefighters use facilities in Fort Myers and points farther north sometimes as far as Ocala to update their training. Cato said the new facility will provide equipment and space to accommodate the mainstays of fire training, such as a burn building for practice fires, a drill tower and road courses for emergency vehicles, as well as training for high-rise rescues and more specialized tasks for Southwest Florida.

    "This is going to be the most significant facility anywhere in Southwest Florida," Cato said.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  2. #2
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Smile Uhhhh, Wait a Minute........

    Stan, Wasn't this the outfit that, a few years back, had only a handfull of people who were fired and replaced by a private for-profit FD that lost out in court quickly and left town???? My observation at that time was that they should have been predominatly volunteer due to the low call volume. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  3. #3
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    Default

    Yes...that was before my time in Florida but as I understand it, while they were on a call, Whackenhut security took over the stations and changed the locks, removing their personal items and placing them out side. That takeover apparently did not last long as you know.

    That area of Florida seems to be gbursting at the seams with developement. As I travel down I-75 to Naples on occassion I see all kinds of construction and clearing in that area. There is definitely a boom there.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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