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Construction of new fire station set to begin

January 11, 2018
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

For homeowners in the northwest Cape, Thursday's groundbreaking for Fire Station No. 11 was something they had been waiting for for years.

The station on Burnt Store Road will incorporate areas currently covered by stations 7 and 8, and is considered essential for the growth of the city and response times in the northwest area.

Interim Fire Chief Ryan Lamb said it was a great day for the city, as the new facility will greatly improve fire service in an area that needs it.

"This was an area of the city where we've had increased response times. The others stations are about five miles away," Lamb said. "A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, so a quick response time is important, especially for a medical emergency."

The event included remarks from Lamb, Mayor Joe Coviello, Councilmember Rick Williams, City Manger John Szerlag and John Jacobs, president of the Northwest Neighborhood Association.

Szerlag said the day was a long time coming due to where the city was just six years ago.

"We were on the brink of financial disaster. We were artificially balancing budgets by ignoring capital and operations and maintenance and hiring personnel," Szerlag said. "We identified a new revenue source called a Fire Service Assessment, for which the proceeds go toward this fire station. Now other cities want to emulate us."

"Let's hope we can get this done quickly because this will be a welcome addition to the northwest Cape. We have the truck, so let's get the building to put it in," Coviello said.

"I live right around the corner, so it will be excellent for me, especially someone my age," Councilmember Rick Williams said. "It will help insurance rates with the extra coverage. I'm looking forward to it."

The new fire station at 1038 Burnt Store Rd. N, has been in the Fire Department's Master Plan and the city's Capital Improvement Plan for five years. Funding for the $4.07 million project was allocated and adopted in 2016.

The station will be 9,161 square feet; the site is 1.8 acres. The station will house a four-person fire engine that provides fire suppression and Advanced Life Support services.

Completion is expected in fall of this year.

Included in the cost is the rights to the fire station design plan, which will save time and money when new stations are built in the future, officials said.

Four emergency medical services personnel are expected to work out of the station, as well as nine fire personnel, Lamb said.

Jacobs said the Northwest Neighborhood Association worked toward getting the fire station built, and city staff was always in discussions with its governing body regarding needs, location, etc.

"It's amazing the city is able to see so far into the future the growth up here and potential. With the age of our residents and all the accidents happening on Burnt Store now, the EMS service is going to be essential," Jacobs said.

In the future, the Cape Coral Fire Department will rebuild Station No. 2 before moving on with Fire Station No. 12 in the Chiquita Boulevard and Veterans Parkway area, which should complete the geographic locations.

At build out, Lamb said there should be between 18 and 20 stations in the city.

"Being pre-platted, it's a difficult model because we have pre-built roads, people build all over, where in most communities, they build from the inside out," Lamb said. "We have to put the stations where we have the density."



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