Crews Excited to Be in Spacious New County Fire Station

By Amber Smith

The Ledger


amber.smith@theledger.com

HAINES CITY -- Dan Washington is still getting used to all the space in the county's new Fire Station No. 33.

For the past 212 years, the Polk County firefighter/engineer and other firefighters have bunked with the county Emergency Medical Services personnel at their station on Ledwith Avenue.

Not anymore.

"This place is great," Washington said of the manufactured home next to the old county vehicle inspection station on U.S. 17/ 92 and Baker Avenue that is now a fire station. Their brush truck and engine are housed in the old inspection station.

"We were sharing bedrooms over at the EMS station. Here, we each have our own rooms," he said.

The county officially opened Station No. 33 for business May 9. Three shifts of three firefighters and one officer staff the station 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We are just like any other county fire station," Washington said. "We provide all the same services."

The county combined fire and EMS services at the EMS station after a contract dispute between the county and Haines City prompted the county to take back coverage of the county territory outside of Haines City.

Before that, the Haines City Fire Department covered the county territory as part of an outside protection area contract.

Firefighter Charles Irving said business has been a little slow on the shift.

"(Friday) we ran our first call," Irving said. "The other shifts have being running two and three calls a day, but we have been pretty quiet so far."

That may change Oct. 1 when the station will take over coverage of the unincorporated area of Davenport. The Davenport Volunteer Fire Department has been covering the unincorporated area outside the city limits.

But in an effort to save money, the county will provide fire and emergency coverage to that unincorporated area Oct. 1 instead of paying the city to do it.

Polk County Fire Chief Doug Lewis said he doesn't foresee any problems with the station expanding its coverage area in a few months.

"I think the station is in a good location to provide service," Lewis said.

Firefighters at Station No. 33 cover about 30 square miles of unincorporated county land. The coverage border to the north is Mystery House Road until Sept. 31. On Oct. 1, the northern boundaries will be the city limits of Davenport.

The southern boundaries are to U.S. 27 and Kokomo Road, but some roads in that area are also in Haines City Fire Department's coverage area.

The boundaries to the west are Lake Lowery Road and U.S. 17/92, and to the east, Lake Marion Creek Road and County Road 580 in Poinciana.

The Grenelefe coverage area is shared with Station No. 26, the county's Sun Air fire station.

"We cover a lot of real estate from this station," Irving said.

Firefighter/EMT Nicholas Brown, the newest addition to Station No. 33, is getting used to a new station and new partners. Brown, who was stationed at the Rifle Range Road station, was working his second shift at the station Friday.

He thinks the new station has potential. So far, the inside of the station is pretty sparsely furnished. Few things, other than the coverage area map, hang on the walls.

Three recliners and a television make up most of the living room area of the station.

"It's comfortable," Brown said. "There is a lot of room here. We're still settling in, though."

Amber Smith can be reached at amber.smith@theledger.com or 863-422-6800.