Fires and medical emergencies are serious business and Hillsborough County is planning some major advances in several areas of South County.
New facilities will be built in a similar manner to the station recently built on College Avenue (State Road 674) in Ruskin, although all will be slightly different depending on the needs of the community.
“We’re seeking to relocate stations in Apollo Beach and Wimauma and expand Riverview’s Station 16 and the Sundance station,” said David Travis, speaking for Hillsborough County Fire-Rescue.
The Capital Project money to buy land and build a station in Wimauma has already been budgeted for but the department says since negotiations are in progress with a landowner, it is not advisable to announce the amount they have to spend.
“Whatever doesn’t go into the acquisition of the land will be put towards the building,” said Fire Facilities Manager Tim Donahue.
A 9,000-square-foot building is planned for approximately 5 acres on or near the intersection of County Road 579 and State Road 674, which is just east of the railroad and easily accessible to many areas.
“The problems we have now are that Wimauma’s Station 22 is old and in need of many upgrades,” Donahue said. “It doesn’t make sense to do that because the current station is off the main road and has speed bumps and other things that can impede its reaction speed.”
The current station is located at 1120 Seventh Street.
“We aren’t certain yet if we’ll need to drill a well and install a septic tank or if we’ll have access to one (already in operation) with the acquisition,” Donahue continued.
County water and sewer do not reach to C.R. 579 and Public Utilities is not in a position to extend them at this time, he continued.
Because of the uncertainty about water and sewer-vs.-septic tank, Donahue said he is also not certain exactly how much land will be needed.
“If we have to drill, then we’ll need five acres. If not, we probably won’t.”
The county is also seeking to relocate Apollo Beach station No. 29, which started as a small community volunteer station but now is county operated at 626-628 Golf and Sea Blvd.
A new site for Apollo Beach has not yet been determined.
Also in progress are expansions for Riverview’s Station 16 currently at 9205 Kevin St., off Balm-Riverview Road, north of the Alafia River, and for the Sundance station at 602 Lightfoot Road, south of Sun City Center on U.S. 301 that handles the more rural area of the county near the Manatee County line.
Stations in other parts of the county are also to be renovated or expanded, Travis said. Some have already been begun.
“The idea is to put the stations on or closer to highways and also to build new and modern facilities and expand the ones we have now to handle area growth and also be more accessible,” he added.
Few details are available as South County’s new and expanded stations are still in land negotiations and planning stages.
This much, however, can be disclosed.
“We know the Wimauma station will have three bays and start with one truck and a tanker (that provides water),” Donahue said. “It will be similar to the new building in Ruskin.”
The Ruskin station was moved from 101 First Ave. N.E. — a small back street off Shell Point Road — to College Avenue where it could easily respond to many areas more quickly.
The original fire house was then converted to the Firehouse Cultural Center, a 501(c)3 project of the Ruskin Community Development Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on the development of significant community projects and the arts.
That former station now houses a stage and theater, a full kitchen, and rooms for workshops, conferences, meetings and instructional programs.
The center is available for rental by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (813) 645-7651.