- February 16, 2021
After years of work, the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department has a new station to call home.
Dozens of people and town leaders attended Wednesday morning’s grand opening for Fire Station 92 at 2162 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
“Since 2011, we’ve been working on this project,” Fire Chief Paul Dezzi said. “I think I’m the happiest guy right now.”
Dezzi said firefighters and paramedics would begin to operate out of Station 92 starting on Monday. Southside firefighters have operated out of a temporary trailer since June 2020.
“It’s a small, compact area and everybody’s really closed in together, but I will tell you that these guys and girls, they made it work,” Dezzi said. “They made no complaints. We never heard a complaint. They knew they were going to get a new home.”
The Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department plans to hold a smaller ceremony in a few weeks for the renovations done at Fire Station 91, which is located 5490 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
When asked about which specific improvements will help the fire rescue department, Town Manager Tom Harmer mentioned the five separate bedrooms inside of the new station. The old station had one large room with traditional bunks.
Harmer also mentioned the importance of the public medical facility near the station’s front entrance on the south end of the building.
“We do have people, and more than you would think, pull up to the station and just looking for help,” Harmer said. “So now we have designated area right up front, where there will be equipment, we have trained personnel, they can tend to them and help them right here in the station.
Fire Station 92 is also built to endure 160 mph winds.
“This is also now storm protected, built to a very high standard, and so it’s going to be here,” Harmer said. “We don’t necessarily want to ride out a Category 5 hurricane, but we have the most protected building on the island.”
Harmer said he believed the new south-end station would receive recognition.
“I think ultimately it will be an award-winning station,” Harmer said. “I think it’ll get recognition by architects and others because of the product here, but it’s really something, I think, it’s fitting for our firefighter-paramedics and all the work they do.
“They deserve a great place to be based out of.”
Mayor Ken Schneier echoed Harmer’s sentiments.
“Your team is the best, and they deserve the best,” Schneier said of Dezzi. “Whenever we have a celebration like this on Longboat Key, I’m thankful for the good fortune that we all have to live here.”
Harmer mentioned how the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department received a 94% satisfaction rate in the town’s 2021 citizen survey.
“It’s the highest-rated of all our departments,” Harmer said. “I know the police are feeling pretty competitive, and I think they were at 93%, so we’ll see what happens next year, but obviously, our residents very much support public safety here on the island and our firefighter-paramedics do a tremendous job.”
With the opening of the new station, Dezzi now has family bragging rights. His sons work for the North Port Fire Rescue Department at Station 85, which they nicknamed “the resort.”
“We kind of mimicked that station from that,” Dezzi said. “And so, my thing was with them, well now they need to come here to see the (real) resort.”