The ribbon-cutting held on January 4 at Brandon Fire Station 45 celebrates one of the busiest stations in Hillsborough County. From left to right: Bob Bivins, chair of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors; Hillsborough County Commissioner Gwen Myers; Hillsborough County Administrator Bonnie Wise; Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones; Hillsborough County Commissioner Michael Owen; and Hillsborough County Commissioner Donna Cameron Cepeda. (Photos courtesy of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.)

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Station 45, located at 1209 Oakfield Dr. in Brandon, was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting in January.

“With the density of Brandon, the need for the station was overwhelming,” said Rob Herrin, spokesperson for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR), who for many of his 17 years as a first responder worked at Station 11 in Brandon.

So great was the need, Herrin said, Station 45 first responders and equipment were housed in temporary shelter during construction and the station’s engine today ranks among the top five in call volume countywide. According to Herrin, HCFR eclipsed 139,000 calls last year, a 23.1 percent increase over the previous five years.

Herrin said HCFR Fire Chief Dennis Jones for years has pushed to increase the station count in Hillsborough to keep up with its growth. According to U.S. census data for 2010 to 2020, Hillsborough, behind Orange, is the second fastest-growing county in the state and ranks 14th among counties nationwide. Hillsborough’s 230,536 resident increase brought its population to 1.46 million people.

Ribbon-cuttings on January 3 and 4, respectively, were held in Brandon and for HCFR Station 29 in Apollo Beach, located at 6720 N. U.S. Hwy. 41, which is a replacement station and outfitted to respond to emergencies by land and sea. Both stations sport state-of-the-art safety features, including isolated sleeping quarters, individualized alarms and a firefighter decontamination area for first responders.

“After a structure fire, byproducts of combustion that are carcinogenic get on their clothes and skin,” Herrin said. “It’s a pretty big health initiative, putting a private shower in the bay before entering the living quarters.” Separate alarms for responders assigned to engines and ambulances lessen the incidence of sleep deprivation, which is another health benefit,” Herrin said.

Brandon’s station is the first new station completed since the most recent update of HCFR’s capital facilities master plan, approved in 2019. Updated regularly to address the changing needs of growing communities, the plan calls for 24 additional fire stations.

The Brandon station houses an advanced life support fire engine and rescue ambulance. Six firefighters per shift are set to operate from the station 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

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