Sarasota County officials break ground on fire station
The fire station is located on Apex Road, near Celery Fields.
| 10:36 a.m. September 17, 2019
After years of monitoring countywide growth and call volume, the Sarasota County Fire Department broke ground on the first of three fire stations to be overhauled in the coming years.
The fire station, located on Apex Road near Celery Fields, is the first to receive renovations and will see the greatest structural change. Soon to follow are stations on Bee Ridge Road and Siesta Key.
Since 2010, the Apex Road station has been considered a temporary station. Two firefighters worked out of a temporary building and large white tent, but as the population grows east of Interstate 75, Chief Michael Regnier said it was necessary to make the location permanent.
After work is complete in summer 2020, the station will be able to withstand impacts of a Category 4 hurricane, will house an ambulance and a fire engine and provide accommodations for 10 personnel, including a battalion chief.
"We always want to make sure that the infrastructure is ahead of the growth that comes along," he said. "So, we want to have the fire stations in place and ready as people move here so that they’re safe when they move to the location. It’s very difficult to build a fire station after all the growth has already happened because then you’re trying to catch up."
The department receives more than 65,000 calls a year, which is just shy of 180 incidents a day. Regnier said that is a lot of calls to handle for the department's 28 stations, but with the new additions, it will be more manageable.
"We want to make sure we can accommodate those calls as they’re coming in and as that ever growing number of 911 calls happen, that we’re able to respond to all of them and take care of everyone," he said.
When complete, the Apex Road station will be 12,500 square feet and will provide storage for the department's special operations team, which is composed of specialized equipment and personnel. The personnel receives additional training to handle hazardous materials and specialized rescue incidents.
By relocating the special operations team to the Apex Road station, the unit will have easier access to I-75, which will allow it to serve the whole county quicker, Regnier said.
County Commissioner Michael Moran said the new stations would help ensure people continue coming to Sarasota because they would be safe.
"People come from all over the nation to live here and all over the world to live here," Moran said. "... You could have the best beaches and a massive quality of life here and all sorts of fun things to do and if people don’t feel safe, they’re just not going to come."
The project is expected to achieve certification by the U.S. Green Building Council upon its completion.