Braden River plans another fire station

Designs have been updated for the fifth station

MELISSA FOLLOWELL

Herald Staff Writer


EAST MANATEE - Though Braden River Fire Rescue has yet to break ground on Station 5, Station 6 is already in the works.

The district's fire commissioners unanimously agreed that Chief Byron Teates should arrange a meeting with Rex Jensen, president and chief executive officer of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, to discuss purchasing a lot on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.

As the district's population continues to grow, the board wants to ensure response times and services don't suffer.

"We probably should have already moved on this," said commission Chairman Garry Lawson.

The lot Braden River Fire District hopes to purchase is on the west side of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, north of the high school.

As Teates prepared to set the ball rolling for Station 6, commissioners signed contracts to purchase the land for Station 5 from SMR.

Sarasota-based architectural firm Totems is designing the fire station, and Zirkelbach Construction will be the contractor on the project that is estimated to cost the district $1.4 million.

Todd Sweet of Totems showed commissioners a plan slightly different than the one presented at last month's fire district meeting.

A fitness room, more showers and two bunks that could be used for additional firefighters or paramedics were added to the 8,393-square-foot facility.

The district received confirmation last month from County Administrator Ernie Padgett and Public Safety director Karen Windon that an ambulance would be stationed at the new location.

"As we grow more, it's scary but it's needed. We have a big district out here," Commissioner Bob Conley said.

Commissioners hoped the station would be open by January 2006, but it looks like an April 2006 move-in date is more realistic.

Lakewood Ranch resident Don O'Leary has long championed the district's need for an ambulance and expressed concern that a later completion date may mean the emergency vehicle would be assigned elsewhere.

Lawson assured O'Leary and the others that the district would work hard with the county to make sure that did not happen.

Another way the fire district hopes to ease some of the workload is by approaching the city of Bradenton about the possible annexation of 75 acres, though it is unclear whether the city would be amenable to that, Teates said.

In other news:

Training officer Tim Hyden walked into Monday's meeting a lieutenant and exited a captain.

Braden River Fire District also welcomed Fire Inspector Troy Toman aboard. Toman has been a firefighter for 18 years and is looking forward to working in the growing district.