LAKEWOOD RANCH — A green silk fence in front of East Manatee Fire Rescue’s administrative building on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard is the only hint of the work that is under way.
But there, crews from Mark Carter Construction have quietly broken ground for the district’s newest and largest fire station.
“We’ve been patiently saving our money, and that brings us to today,” East Manatee Fire Rescue Chief Byron Teates said. “This station is geographically central to the district.”
Site work began about two weeks ago, and there’s still much to be done before the actual 14,316-square-foot, five-bay building is erected. Teates said the facility should be finished in October and will be operational by sometime in November. The district plans to hire more firefighters to put in the new station, but officials have not yet determined how many are needed.
Teates said the new station, which will be the largest in the district, likely will house some of the district’s specialized pieces of equipment so that they are more easily accessible to East Manatee’s five other stations.
Teates said having a more centralized station not only will improve service calls to residents — particularly in cases where the station closest to the call is already on an assignment — but it also substantially will reduce fire insurance costs for homeowners in neighborhoods north of State Road 64 such as Mill Creek, Greenfield Plantation and houses along Upper Manatee River Road.
“If you are more than five miles away from a fire station, you don’t have good insurance (prices),” Teates said. “It’s where (the stations) are strategically placed throughout the district as well.”
Officials had hoped to begin construction about a year ago but delayed the project because of the economy, among other reasons, Teates said.
The $1.86 million project is being funded through an ad valorem tax voters approved more than five years ago. At that time, East Manatee Fire Rescue promised voters it would build more stations, among other things.
“We’ve pretty much kept our word, except we’re a little behind,” Teates said. “We’ve been putting money aside to build this station.”
The new facility will be fully paid for the day it opens, he said.
Teates said East Manatee may build additional fire stations in the future, but those plans are not being considered at this time.
Contact Pam Eubanks at email@example.com.
Download the fire station rendering here.
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