Firefighters will operate out of a temporary trailer after construction gets underway later this month on Station 92.
Longboat Key firefighter-paramedic Brian Kolesa will miss the routines he’s developed at the town’s south station.
He's learned that no matter what happens after a call comes in, there is always calm and consistency back at the station that fronts Gulf of Mexico Drive alongside the Longboat Key Club's Harbourside golf course.
“Everything’s always up in the air as soon as those tones go off,'' he said. "Our station is kind of a sense of security, in that everything is always the same here."
That changes a bit this month as Kolesa, a Longboat firefighter-paramedic for 10 years, and his teammates move into temporary quarters in the first phase of Station 92's demolition and reconstruction.
Firefighters will begin operating out of a temporary trailer just north of the building this week, with demolition of the mid-1980s-era fire station set to begin early next week.
“You took the words out of my mouth, [it’s] bittersweet,” said Lt. Daniel Heath, who has worked for the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department since November 2011. “We’ve lived here and it’s a home away from home, but we’re ready for something new at the same time. The station has its ups and downs and needed repairs, but it’s always been there for us to come back to after whatever it is that we went through.”
The new station is scheduled to open in April 2021.
Kolesa acknowledged there will be some “growing pains” in the temporary trailer, but said he’s excited to see the finished structure.
“I think that moving employees is going to be stressful,” Kolesa said. “It’s always going to be uncomfortable, but knowing that we’re going to be given the opportunity to have a better working environment and a better opportunity to conduct business is exciting.”
The temporary trailer can accommodate up to five firefighters, Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said.
Kolesa said the department is still trying to figure out what it can and cannot survive with while in the temporary setup.
“I think that everyone anticipates the idea of a trailer as being very negative, and there’s just a connotation with you’re leaving your fire station to go in a trailer and how are you going to survive with this?” Kolesa said. “We’re very adaptive people. We came into this profession to help people. My goal isn’t to be comfortable at work. My goal is to come and help people.”
Cleaning and social distance protocols have changed at both of the town’s fire rescue stations, and crews' temperatures are monitoring before and after each shift.
Storage will be an issue in the temporary building, but not one the department hasn't figured out.
The department must park its fire truck and ambulance outside while the temporary facility is in use. An adjacent storage building is being set up for bulky gear, such as the 15 sets of bunker gear normally stored inside the fire house.
Despite operating out of the smaller, temporary trailer, the department expects to provide residents the same level of service.
“I don’t want people to take away the fact that [because] we’re not in an ideal situation [that it] is going to affect any level of service,” Kolesa said. “We’re still here, the same level of training, the same level of compassion. It doesn’t matter if we’re in a trailer or a fire station. If you call 911, you’re still getting the same people.”