New fire station to offer a variety of benefits

Response time will decrease, officials say
Michael Stewart

Better response times, community meeting space and a safe working place for firefighters are a few of the benefits of a new fire station to be built in Gulf Breeze, city officials said.

Construction of the $1.1 million fire station is slated to begin in February and could open by the end of 2004, Gulf Breeze City Manager Edwin "Buz" Eddy said.

"The biggest impact for citizens is that the new fire station will decrease response times," Eddy said.

Not that the new station will be any closer to the action; it will be built adjacent to the fire station on Fairpoint Drive. The biggest benefit will be in the layout.

The 50-year-old building that members of the volunteer fire department now call home is cramped and makes maneuvering difficult. There is inadequate storage at the fire station, and firefighters often have to run to the other side of the building to pick up something, Eddy said.

"Right now, it's pretty crowded getting dressed with all those trucks in there," firefighter Jim Custred said. "We're excited about getting the new building."

Storage won't be a problem in the new 8,000-square-foot building, which will boast sleeping quarters, separate bath and locker room facilities for men and women and a modern kitchen.

Plans also call for a large community room residents can use for meetings, Eddy said. There are other benefits as well.

The new station will have four bays for firetrucks. Although the current fire station has four bays, two are in front of the building and two are in the back. When firefighters respond with the rescue truck, the most used piece of apparatus in the building, they have to exit the back and travel through neighborhoods, slowing response times.

All four of the bays in the new station will face Fairpoint Drive, improving access to a major road.

"It will help if we don't have to drive through neighborhoods to respond to calls," Custred said.

Besides, the old building leaks and is not built to hurricane standards, Eddy said, predicting the new fire station will last another 50 years.

The current fire station likely will be used for storage.