County studies where to locate fire station
Until Indian River County can confirm a location, the money budgeted in local-option sales taxes remains in county coffers.

By Henry A. Stephens staff writer
November 28, 2003

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY A recent stalemate with Grand Harbor officials over possible fire station land has sent county officials back to the drawing board to see where they really need stations.

County Emergency Services Director John King said he is asking the New Jersey-based Insurance Services Office Inc., which studied the county in 1996, to take a new look in light of recent growth such as 1,740 homes and condominiums proposed for 700 acres northeast of 49th Street and 58th Avenue.

"Last time, they didn't exactly say Grand Harbor was 'perfect,' but it was close to an ideal location," King said last week.

After the prior study, county officials were looking to move Station 5 from Winter Beach to Grand Harbor because water distribution systems would allow it to cover a greater area. That would require building a new station there.

When Grand Harbor was developed in the 1980s, King has said, the developer gave the county a triangular piece of property at 45th Street and Indian River Boulevard for a future fire-paramedic station. But since then, he said, the county widened the boulevard and added a deceleration lane to 45th Street.

Grand Harbor officials last summer offered part of a 6-acre parcel on the south side of 53rd Street, between U.S. 1 and Indian River Boulevard.

But in September they proposed developing the vacant property south of that site for commercial uses, turning one end of the station's driveway into a service road for the business strip.

That kind of traffic near a fire station led King to reject the latest offer, he said.

Until the county can confirm a location, King said, the budgeted $1.1 million in local-option sales taxes remains in county coffers.

The County Commission on Nov. 4 approved King's request to pay up to $10,000 to the Insurance Services Office for a new study expected to show any changes in where new stations should be built.

Fire insurance companies often look to the company's ratings of a community to determine the risk, and thus the premiums, for their policyholders, company spokesman Dave Dasgupta said Wednesday.

The company in 1996 also told the county a new station should be in the vicinity of Orchid. Station 11 was built near County Road 510 and Jungle Trail in 1998.

For now, King oversees 15 stations, nine of them shared by firefighters and paramedics. Two additional stations are solely for firefighters and two more are for paramedics.

Two other stations, in Roseland and Vero Lake Estates, are staffed part time by volunteer firefighters.