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Built for the future of Sarasota

Sarasota County firehouses earn American Public Works Association award.

Brett Raymaker, a Willis Smith Construction project executive, stands in front of Station No. 17.
Brett Raymaker, a Willis Smith Construction project executive, stands in front of Station No. 17.
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Brett Raymaker, the Willis Smith project executive for four Sarasota County Fire Department stations built since 2015, didn't hesitate when asked if Station 17 would be around 50 years from now.

"Yes," he said firmly. "We pride ourselves on being a sustainable builder. We were building something that will be here in 50 years. We were building a landmark."

He feels the same way about all four stations — Nos. 12, 14, 16 and 17 — which collectively won the 2018 American Public Works Association Projects of the Year Award for Florida structures $5-$25 million. The award was announced May 29.

Raymaker came to No. 17, which is tucked behind the Mall at University Town Center at 5431 Desoto Road, Sarasota, to talk about the project, which included a team of Sweet Sparkman Architects of Sarasota, Willis Smith Construction of Lakewood Ranch, Sarasota County facilities department and Sarasota Fire Department personnel.

Each project broke ground within three months of one of the other's groundbreaking, but at no time were all four projects live at the same time. All four stations earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver rating as designed by the United States Green Building Council.

The projects are now being considered for the National APWA Award.

Although Raymaker said Willis Smith is proud to be recognized, he said much of what was done on the fire station projects is standard practice.

"We diverted trash off the site, we sealed off ducts, we added solar supplementation, all the necessary things people should do," Raymaker said.

He said Willis Smith had to look into specialized exhaust systems and monitors for the firehouses along with backup generator power.

Besides all the bells and whistles, though, he said he loves the design.

"It's reassuring to the neighborhood," he said.


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