Sarasota County’s newest fire station, which opened in a ceremony in April, was built to withstand Category 4 hurricane winds and replaces a metal structure, built on Bee Ridge Road in 1974.
The 10,500-square-foot Station 9 in the third in a series of fire station renovations that also included a station on Siesta Key and one adjacent to Celery Fields on Apex Road.
“This is a milestone not just in the opening of this fire station, but it marks the third station we’ve opened in three years and the support of multiple teams across the community to make this happen,” said Richard Collins, the director of emergency services. “It was barely a year ago that we did the initial groundbreaking for this, so it shows how fast the work on this has been done.”
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Collins said the previous building sustained damage in 2017's Hurricane Irma, adding that personnel from the station had to be moved because of their home base's vulnerability to wind.
“Now both stations have that hardened structure, so our team can be safe and remain in the communities they serve,” he said.
The new station will house 10 firefighters and paramedics, as well as medical supplies and an emergency medical station. The structure also included cost-saving decisions, such as easy-to-maintain concrete floors.
The Sarasota Fire Department answers and responds to about 60,000 calls each year, according to County Commission Chair Al Maio. He also said Fire Station 9 is the seventh new fire station in the past seven years, which has shown the importance of the department in the eyes of the County Commission.
Commissioner Ron Cutsinger also spoke at the opening, praising the emphasis Maio had on bringing funding to the Sarasota Fire Department. Cutsinger also praised how quickly the new station was built. Ground was broken in 2021 for Station 9.
In addition to the improvements the new fire station possesses, it has also provided an opportunity to shelter and to provide space for additional workers, which could increase the capabilities of the department in the surrounding area.
“It gives our firefighters a great resource where they feel safe and can do their jobs well and comfortably,” Cutsinger said. “It’s a great location, a great proximity to the interstate and has a fuel station. It prepares us for a hopefully never-coming storm.”