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Longboat Key Friday, May 1, 2020 3 months ago

Longboat Key firefighters prepare to use temporary south-side fire station

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A rebuilt Station 92 is scheduled to open in April 2021.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key firefighters who work at the town’s south station are set to begin operating out of a temporary trailer around the end of the month.

The town has not set a date to begin demolishing the existing Station 92 building at 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Workers have set up a mobile home just north of the existing structure, which fronts the Longboat Key Club’s Harbourside golf course.

“Over the next month, you’ll see a lot of work being done at the temporary facility, where they’re setting it up, leveling it, for the firefighters,” Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said. “They are also making some adjustments to the ground.”

Crews are working to remove trees in the area and to put together both halves of the double-wide trailer, according to Longboat Key town projects manager Charlie Mopps.

“This is all by the grace of the country club for allowing us to use part of their property to do this,” Mopps said.

The existing Station 92 was built in 1986. The rebuilt structure is scheduled to open in April 2021.

“The [existing] firehouse itself was not built for today’s standards, and what I mean by that is there [are] no female facilities there,” Dezzi said. “It's not gender-specific. Firefighters all sleep in one room, whether you're male or female.”

The new structure will feature gender-specific sleeping facilities and bathrooms.

Crews cleared trees to create space for a temporary trailer just north of Station 92 at 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

“We have females in the fire service, and we want to make sure that we cater to them as well as to the male firefighters,” Dezzi said.

Mopps said the total cost of the project is $5,058,085, which includes renovations to the town’s north fire station at 5490 Gulf of Mexico Drive. In the 2018 election, voters decided by a margin of 65% to 35% to authorize borrowing $5,895,000 for the two projects.

“I want people to know that we stayed within the financial constraints of that bond,” Dezzi said. “We haven't gotten a penny over it, so we want to make sure people are aware that we stay within budget.”

Station 91, the town’s north station, was built in 1996 and abides by building standards. It will be renovated with some of the same features as Station 92, which includes a back-up generator to provide power to the station, new alarm systems and a new radio system.

Both stations will be built to withstand 160 mph winds.

Dezzi said the new south-side structure will give his department more space to operate, and allow firefighters to use a red-yellow-green system.

“There’s an initiative that came out a few years ago where firefighters were experiencing cancer much faster than other professions,” Dezzi said.

The green area is where it’s safe and there are no contaminations. The yellow area is a caution area where firefighters return coming back from a call.

The red area is where the firetrucks are located, but Dezzi said the renovations will overhaul the stations' exhaust systems.

“When the fire trucks start, the exhaust system will come on in the bays, and will remove all the carcinogens that are coming out of the exhaust system of the trucks,” Dezzi said. “That'll be dissipated.”

The Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department will park its fire truck and ambulance outside while the temporary south-side facility is in use.

“It’s just keeping the dirt and keeping the truck clean. That’s the biggest thing” Dezzi said. “Also, not having anybody come off the street and going up on the trucks or near the truck without us knowing. We’ve always had our truck secured, and this is a…[we’re going to] secure it the best we can while we go through this temporary phase of building the station.”

Firefighters will continue to use the existing emergency signal in front of the existing south-side structure to access Gulf of Mexico Drive, Mopps said.

Workers began on routing electricity for the temporary trailer just north of the existing Station 92.

“The only caveat to that would be towards the end of the project that apron, that they're going to be utilizing will need to be reformed,” Mopps said.

Mopps said the department will have to use an alternate for a three-day period towards the end of the project.

Dezzi said each station will have a maximum of five people on duty even while the department uses the temporary trailer. He also said he does not expect the temporary site to increase the department's response time to 911 calls.

“We have the same amount of people at both stations during the construction,” Dezzi said.

Dezzi said the department would also need to figure out how to provide firefighters an area to study or train at the temporary facility.

"Any time you're in a temporary facility, you do have some constraints to it," Dezzi said.

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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

See All Articles by Mark

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