As new homes and apartments continue to pop up in New Tampa, the City of Tampa is delivering on its promise to keep new residents safe.
Tampa Fire Rescue (TFR) Station No. 23 is on its way.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and TFR Chief Thomas Forward were among those on hand on April 9 as ground was broken on the new station, albeit ceremoniously, as the building located in the Grand Hampton area at Trout Creek Dr. and County Line Rd. has already begun to take form.
It is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
“This is one of the things I like to do,” said Mayor Buckhorn at the groundbreaking ceremony, “to prepare for the next generation in our community, the next chapter in Tampa history, the next chapter in New Tampa. We’re happy to make this investment. It’s a great day for New Tampa.”
Buckhorn, who has presided over five fire stations being built or rehabilitated since becoming mayor in 2011, praised District 7 Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera for his diligence in getting the $1.4 million (of 2018 Community Investment Tax proceeds) earmarked for the station’s completion.
Viera says it was past time to build New Tampa’s fourth fire station, and first since 2012, considering the continued growth of new homes and apartments in the area. For example, the Tampa City Council authorized nearly 800 new homes roughly 18 months ago for K-Bar Ranch (although most of the calls from that area will be handled by Station 22 near Morris Bridge Rd. (see below).
Not only is Fire Station No. 23 located right down County Line Rd. from Grand Hampton’s 900 or so homes, as well as another 480 apartment units at Colonial Grand at Hampton Preserve, it also will help take some of the pressure off the existing Stations No. 21 and 22, both of which are located on Cross Creek Blvd.
“It just gets down to the basic idea that as you have expanding communities like we’ve had in New Tampa, you have to build basic local government responses for the needs of those local families,” Viera says. “We’ve been building more and more neighborhoods out here, but not building local government responses for the people moving in.”
Back in 2008, Tampa originally bought the 2.2 acres of land for Station 23 for $1.2 million, but the recession put plans to actually build it on hold.
The fire station is part of the city’s $120.3-million Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which is addressing many of the recession-induced deferred infrastructure projects. Another fire station, No. 24, is planned for the K-Bar Ranch area, but it hasn’t received funding yet.
Fire Station 23 will house nearly 40 firefighters, an engine company, a truck company and a rescue unit.
“The rescue car is one of the most important things for this area because the majority of our calls are not fire calls, they are medical calls,” said TFR public information officer Jason Penny. “The brand new unit will do wonders for the people of this area.”
While the Tampa Fire Rescue Training Division is located in Palmetto Beach, Penny said the new station also will have a separate building that will serve as a training area for potential firefighters. It will be the only fire station that has a standalone detached classroom/meeting area.
“This gives the whole district an area where they can train,” Penny said.
Also, Station 23 will be home to a new District Fire Chief, who will coordinate responses between all four of New Tampa’s fire stations (including Station No. 20 in Tampa Palms (see Community Calendar on pg. 18).
With more homes and apartments coming, Chief Forward said the timing of a new fire station couldn’t be any better.
“Fire Station 23 will definitely enhance the response in this (area),” Penny said. “We have been looking at runs and looking at the response packages, and we could not ask for this station to come in and provide….service at a better time. By putting this in place…we absolutely ensure that the (New Tampa) area will realize that exact same level of emergency response as the rest of our greater Tampa area.”