New fire station gets OK

By David Ball
Posted-Friday, July 15, 2005 6:59 PM EDT Email this story

Facility will be three times bigger

The Marathon City Council got its first look at plans for a new fire station Tuesday, and approved a new building that would be more than three times the size of the current structure at Florida Keys Marathon Airport.

The current single-story building is 6,800 square feet with an additional 1,000 square feet of trailer space.

The new building, designed by planning consultant Keith and Schnars, would be two stories totaling more than 24,000 square feet, including 7,128 square feet of administrative space and 11,000 square feet of vehicle bays on the first floor and 6,300 square feet of living quarters on the second floor.

The plan is not excessive, said Fire Chief Hans Wagner, who has been waiting along with his crew of more than 50 firefighters for a new facility to replace the current building, which is literally falling apart as it stands.

Firefighters currently live and sleep in small trailers and take and teach ongoing education classes in old and unsafe rooms. Wagner's office is in an outside trailer.

The city budgeted $1.25 million this year for a new fire station, and Wagner said it is well worth it.

"We've worked diligently with Keith and Schnars ... to meet every possible need with this fire station," Wagner said. "One of the beauties of the fire station is ... if one day we have commercial airlines back in Marathon, we can serve [the airport]."

The new building will be built on the current site. City Manager Mike Puto said construction crews will start work on the west side of the property and slowly work their way east, gradually phasing out the old facility and still giving optimum service to the city.

Planning Director Gail Kenson said the only conditions for approval should be waiving the required 200-foot setback and bufferyard requirements, which would severely restrict the plans.

"If we comply with the 200-yard setback to the front and back, the fire station would be in the middle of the runway," Kenson said.

The council unanimously approved the plans with the required conditions.