After nearly a year of looking for a temporary home for its south station firefighters, Longboat Key officials have decided to stay put and put a modified construction trailer on its 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive site for fire crews to use while work progresses on their new home.
“We’re going to be talking to the Longboat Key Club about using a sliver of land for a trailer and storage,” Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said.
Several locations were considered as a temporary location while the existing south station is razed and a new, one-floor building with three truck bays is constructed.
Dezzi said the sites were ruled out because all were too far away and would exceed the department’s desired five-minute response time. In the end, he said, it made more sense to put a trailer on the site and work around it.
“We’ll start designing the south station by the end of the year,” said Dezzi, adding that building will take about a year to construct.
Town voters passed a referendum last year that allows the town to spend up to $5.895 million to rebuild the south fire station and refurbish the northern Longboat Key Fire Rescue headquarters. Both stations are 4.5 miles apart. The other nearest fire station outside the town is a Sarasota County station near St. Armands Circle.
The south station sits next to a golf course owned by the Resort at Longboat Key and was built more than 30 years ago. The new south station will be designed to better interact with the public. The current south station uses the same entrance for firefighters and the public, which can interfere with access for both. The new station will have a separate public entrance.
The current building has mold issues and does not meet codes for firehouse storage or energy efficiency. It also does not have separate locker rooms for men and women, or an up-to-date fire-alarm system.
“It also had a lot of mechanical issues,” Dezzi said.
Renovation of the northern station, built in 1994, will begin first, he said. That building – located at 5940 GMD - will be getting around $1 million in upgrades including enhanced locker room facilities, separate sleeping quarters for men and women and a kitchen area.
“The living quarters will be gender specific,” he said.
Contracts for both projects should be ready for signature this month.
Work will begin on the northern station by summer and take about three months to complete. The town is working with Sweet Sparkman Architects of Sarasota on the north station renovations and on the blueprints for the $4.6 million south station project.
Jon F. Swift of Sarasota and Wharton Smith Inc. of Orlando will be the contractors for both fire stations.