Hillsborough County Fire Rescue’s introduction of new and expanded fire stations in Brandon and Apollo Beach has already made a positive impact on residents in the two fast-growing communities. Recently, dignitaries and Fire Rescue staff attended ribbon-cuttings at both newly constructed stations to mark the launch of enhanced services in Hillsborough County.
The new Apollo Beach Station 29 is bigger and better poised to respond by land and sea. Located at 6720 N. U.S. Hwy. 41, the replacement for Station 29 in Apollo Beach puts Hillsborough Fire Rescue’s Marine Unit base in a larger, more modern station that is well positioned to respond quicker to the fast-growing community and provide better access to the county’s fire boat.
The Marine Unit consists of one fire boat and two personal watercrafts. The station also is home to a fire engine, an ambulance and a water tanker. Six firefighters per shift will operate the station 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in three shifts.
Hillsborough’s newest station, Brandon Fire Station 45, located at 1209 Oakfield Dr., is already among the busiest in the county. For over two years, Fire Station 45’s first responders and emergency fire rescue apparatus have been serving the community while temporarily housed in a modular station until the construction of the new fire station could be completed.
Fire Station 45 is Hillsborough Fire Rescue’s first new station completed since the most recent update of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue’s Capital Facilities Master Plan, which was approved in 2019. The master plan calls for 24 additional fire stations and is updated regularly to keep up with the changing needs of communities because of Hillsborough County’s rapid population growth.
Both new fire stations are designed with the well-being of first responders as a priority. Technological improvements include separate decontamination rooms, allowing firefighters to remove soiled protective gear contaminated during firefighting and other hazardous materials exposure. The new stations contain specialized washing machines to remove particulate matter from protective equipment. The stations also have separate showers that allow first responders to rid themselves of contaminants before such toxic substances can be introduced into the living spaces of the stations.
The need for social distancing, as reinforced during the COVID-19 pandemic, has driven the need to incorporate individualized sleeping-quarter designs into these new facilities to allow this practice when needed to reduce the spread of airborne illness.