City Council Monday night authorized City Manager John Szerlag to proceed with the design and bidding elements of a project to construct an apparatus bay for Fire Station 10 in northeast Cape Coral.
Fire Station 10 currently is an adapted residential structure with the fire truck parked in the driveway exposed to all types of weather. Fire Chief Donald Cochran told council that the city is running the risk of a downgrade in its fire services rating for that area if the truck is not housed in a bay.
Cochran said he expects Cape Coral to be reviewed by the Insurance Services Office (ISO) in the near future because fire departments in Estero, San Carlos Park and Fort Myers are currently under review.
"They are in the area so I expect them to show up any time," Cochran said. "We are the largest department so they might be saving us for last."
Cochran already hired a National Fire Services Office (NFSO) consultant to assess the situation and it was recommended that Fire Station 10 would not qualify as a station without the truck protected from the weather. That possibly would negatively impact the insurance premiums for residents and businesses served by the station in the Del Prado Boulevard extension area known as Gator Circle. If the city were forced to close the station, the nearest apparatus to cover the area is Station 5 on Diplomat Parkway, increasing response times for fire and EMS services.
A permanent Fire Station 10 currently is on the city's expansion plan for Averill Boulevard, but construction capital was suspended in 2008. Cochran pointed out that once the permanent station is built, the current station would become a substation and the engine still would need to be housed. The bay construction estimated cost is $250,000.
"That seems like a lot of money for a garage," said Councilmember Rick Williams, "especially for a temporary structure until a (permanent) station is built."
Cochran and Public Works officials assured council that the cost is just an estimate and traditionally bids come in significantly under the estimate. They are confident that will be the case here.
"If the city were to put the house on the market later, a lot of people now are looking for homes with garages for their motor home, so that would be an advantage there," said Cochran. "It's also a matter of security and protecting the equipment. Currently, we can't keep drugs on the truck while parked outside. They are in a kit inside the station that attendants have to grab on their way out. It's just another hurdle in our response time and our fire service rating."
Council's unanimous vote on the resolution stressed that Szerlag bring the matter back to council "with a figure" once the bidding process is done.
Council also approved a resolution vacating a right-of-way alley on Northeast 7th Place just west of Andalusia Boulevard with the city retaining all underlying and adjacent public utility and drainage easements associated with the area. The petition was filed by GC2 of Southwest Florida, LLC.
The subject parcel borders the new Golden Corral restaurant property located at the intersection of Pine Island Road and Andalusia.