Fire crew marvels at 'beautiful' Station 13
The St. Lucie County firefighters find the larger building and its state-of-the-art kitchen a vast improvement over the old post.

By Eve Modzelewski staff writer
August 24, 2003

PORT ST. LUCIE Spacious eat-in kitchen equipped with stainless steel appliances. Oversized bathrooms with sleek tile. French doors in the day-room. Central vacuum system for easy cleaning.

An ad for a luxury home?

Nope, it's a description of the St. Lucie County Fire District's new Station 13, which opened Friday east of Florida's Turnpike on Becker Road.

For the firefighters moving into the $1.2 million facility, the upgrade felt well earned. Since 1995, Station 13 had been a truck bay and a rented trailer with aging carpet and a tiny kitchen about a mile east of the new location.

As they scoped out their new digs Friday, the firefighters marveled at how much more bathroom and dormitory space they'll have. The consensus was that the new station is a big step up.

Lt. Todd Harrison and his 9-month-old daughter, Ellie, stopped by to put his gear in one of the new bunker-gear lockers a first in the county.

Harrison said he likes how much bigger the new facility is it's 6,000 square feet, compared with about 2,200 at the old station but said that comes with a drawback: more cleaning. However, with a central vacuum system providing suction pipes in each room, the chore will be a little easier.

To make sure the new fire station complements Tesoro, a golf course community planned nearby, the Ginn Co. chipped in $475,000 for aesthetic improvements.

Architects Edlund, Dritenbas & Binkley designed the station in Italian Renaissance style to match Tesoro's homes, which Ginn is developing just north of the station off Becker Road.

The station is painted in Mediterranean hues, and has a barrel tile roof and lush tropical landscaping.

"When you're in a high-end residential development ... you have to blend with the architecture of the neighborhood," said John Binkley, of the Vero Beach architecture firm. "Obviously, they don't want a metal building when they have multimillion-dollar homes surrounding it."

Firefighter Karen Kozac, the only woman assigned to the station, marveled at the spacious women's locker room that she'll have all to herself. She called the station "beautiful" as she walked through with her 2-month- old son, Mason, and her husband, Shane, also a St. Lucie County firefighter.

"I brought my wife here the other day, and now she wants a new house," Capt. Mike Rizzello said, laughing.

The place is functional, too. Although the stainless steel stove, griddle, refrigerator and other appliances are stylish, they're also durable, Deputy Chief Ron Parrish said.

"It'll probably last longer than the station lasts," Parrish said.

Firefighter Emil Miclea started his shift at the station Friday the first night anyone slept there and said the state-of-the-art kitchen is the best part of the facility.

"I mainly do the cooking," he said.

The station includes a south county substation for the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office. It will give residents of nearby Harbour Ridge and Tesoro easier access to services, Sheriff Ken Mascara said.

"Tremendous growth is occurring there," he said.

A volunteer will staff the substation during business hours.

Scott Lentz, one of the fire district's two maintenance men, sat on the architectural selection committee for the station and said he thought the new Station 13 would prove to be the best in the county.

"There's no such thing as a maintenance-free station ... but this is going to be one of our best-run stations," he said.

- eve.modzelewski@scripps.com