By Tamas Mondovics
Hillsborough County government officials joined by leading members of the County’s emergency management team and fire rescue were all on hand this month to celebrate the long awaited groundbreaking for a new Public Safety Operations Complex (PSOC).
When completed, the $36.1 million facility located on 20 acres at 9450 E. Columbus Dr. between Falkenburg Rd. and U.S. Hwy. 301 in the Brandon area, will become the County’s new center of emergency preparedness and response efforts, housing its fire rescue headquarters and emergency operations center, both of which are currently located on Hanna Ave. in Tampa.
The 52,000-sq.-ft. main building will house Fire Rescue’s administrative staff and training center, the Emergency Dispatch Center, and the Office of Emergency Management.
Also to be constructed on the site for Fire Rescue is a 10,000-sq.-ft. fleet operations area as well as a 15,500-sq.-ft. warehouse.
“This is a great day for us and for the residents of Hillsborough County,” said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR) Cheif Dennis Jones. “The new facility will fully serve the county.”
Commissioner Les Miller (District 3) emphasized that a key component of the facility is a new, state-of-the-art, Emergency Operations Center.
“As disaster preparedness and response efforts have evolved and more agencies are working together, the current facility on Hanna Ave. has become outdated and overcrowded,” Miller said. “The new space will feature room for more personnel, a more efficient layout, a larger media area, more sleeping quarters, and up-to-date technology and will be built to withstand a category five hurricane.”
Commissioner Stacy White (District 4) agreed, adding that while the new facility is a wise investment he hopes residents will never have to see and experience its full potential.
Commissioner Sandra Murman added her comments, emphasizing that the new complex has been a long time coming, but that getting it right was important.
“I hope that our community will grow to appreciate what this new facility will do for them,” Murman said.
The new Fire Rescue training center will provide a wide range of instruction, ranging from entry-level fire training to advanced classes that will satisfy the technical rescue requirements for urban search and rescue, and hazardous materials incidents.
“This complex will not only serve the county during a hurricane event and not just during the hurricane season, from June through November, but emergencies we must be prepared for all year.”
County officials said that project is being funded by General Revenue and Public Safety Improvement Bond Project Funds, as construction is scheduled to be complete by September 2016.
For more information, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org.