By Matt Wiley
Where there’s smoke, there may be fire. And, if that fire occurs in eastern New Tampa, there is now a third Tampa Fire Rescue (TFR) station ready to respond to it.
New Tampa’s third TFR station, No. 22, opened its brand new garage doors to its fire engines on April 19 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Prior to the new station, residents of eastern New Tampa often had to wait more than six minutes for emergency service, since the closest station, TFR Station No. 21, was more than three miles from Morris Bridge Rd., near the intersection of Cross Creek and Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvds.
“Now you have a station that can respond more quickly,” says TFR spokesman Capt. Lonnie Benniefield. “Response times have been cut down to about three minutes.”
Benniefield says that the new 8,600-square-foot station, located at 10871 Cross Creek Blvd., is now the primary station serving the New Tampa communities and businesses east of Kinnan St. near Morris Bridge Rd., including Arbor Greene, Cory Lake Isles and Heritage Isles, as well as the K-Bar Ranch/Easton Park area.
However, the station is not limited to only those communities. Benniefield explains that if a call comes in to TFR Station No. 21 and that station’s fire engine is already out on a call, units from the new station can respond.
“It gives the citizens of that area more confidence knowing that station is there to protect them,” he says.
In addition to serving New Tampa residents in a timelier manner, the $1.6-million station also came at no cost to city taxpayers. It was paid for entirely with federal stimulus money from the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. More than 5,000 stations across the country applied for the grant. Station No. 22 was one of only 100 stations that were awarded the grant. In addition, the salaries of the twelve firefighters staffing the new station are paid for by a grant from the 2008 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER.
The land that the station is built on was originally bought by the City of Tampa in 2007 for $750,000. Station No. 22 also is the City of Tampa’s first “green station.” Benniefield explains that the station is surrounded by “Florida-friendly” foliage, and features a metal roof, solar-powered water heaters and “earth-friendly” insulation.