By Tamas Mondovics
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue officials have confirmed that the department is in the process of a major overhaul of a number of its old outdated stations throughout the county.
Fire Rescue spokesman, Ronnie Rivera, said that the department plans to renovate, upgrade or relocate and rebuild a total of nine of its stations throughout the county, including those located in Wimauma, Apollo Beach, Riverview, Gibsonton and just to name a few.
The need for such improvement is hardly unexpected as HCFR services an area of 931 sq. miles and a population of 785,000 with approximately 1,000 career personnel as well as the newly recruited Reserve Responders, while operating on an approximately $115 million budget.
“Many of our stations have been donated to the department decades ago,” Rivera said. “Most of them are either too small or in the wrong place, often too deep within a neighborhood, making quick response very difficult.”
Rivera said that the time-frame for each project depends on whether land acquisition is required, but would normally run between 2-3 years at the most.
An example of the efforts is clear in the relocating of the department’s South Brandon station. The hope is to bring a number of benefits to local residents including better response times.
The proposed new three-bay, 10,000 sq. ft. fire station will be a major improvement compared to the now 40-year-old station.
“The old station is too small and does not meet the current standards, for apparatus bay or crew quarters,” Fire Chief Ron Rogers said. “The new station will be better located and will serve the community with the highest standards.”
Fire Rescue officials also confirmed that the construction of a new 30-acre training facility on Falkenburg Rd. in Brandon, which will also make room for a new HCFR administration office, dispatch center, as well as relocate the County’s Emergency Operations Center is also underway and is hoped to be operational within the next two years.
For more information about Hillsborough County Fire Rescue please visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org.