TARPON SPRINGS — Emergency response times north of the Anclote River should begin to improve beginning Oct. 1.
That’s when a temporary fire station will officially go into operation, until its permanent replacement is built.
“The station itself will close the big gap in response time for the north side of the river,” said Tarpon Springs Fire Chief Rick Butcher. “As you know, that area’s been poorly represented for fire rescue. For us to get to the north side, if one of the bridges is blocked, we’re in trouble.”
Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue has been operating from two facilities, Stations 69 and 70. The former is the Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue and Public Safety Facility at 444 S. Huey Ave. Station 70 is at 1025 Gulf Road, just east of Trapon Springs High School and Sunset Hills Elementary School.
Both the temporary and permanent stations will be north of the river. The new fire station is set to be built on the property of the city’s future reverse-osmosis water treatment plant on L&R Industrial Boulevard.
Construction of the temporary fire station will be “substantially complete” by Sept. 1 and made operational a month later, Butcher said. City commissioners unanimously approved a bid totaling $230,340 to Tarpon Springs-based Stamper Construction Co. to construct the facility.
Also complete by Oct. 1, Butcher said, will be the short extension of L&R Industrial Boulevard north to an existing portion of roadway going by the same name. That would open direct access to Anclote Boulevard. All road work on the extension may not be completed by Oct. 1, but it will be functional.
When asked by Commissioner Jeff Larsen about how long the temporary station will be needed before transitioning to the permanent facility, Butcher said it’s too soon to say.
“As far as how long we’re going to be in the facility, it does vary,” he said. “We could stay there for a couple years or whatever we need. It’s based on the R-O plant’s completion. All of the trailers that the R-O plant is using for their office are right now sitting on the property that will be the fire station.”
Regardless of the new station’s completion date, Mayor David Archie was glad to get last week’s update.
“This is something we’ve been looking forward to for a while,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be a catalyst for some things to happen on the other side (of the river) and give us a greater capacity to handle any situations as far as emergencies are concerned.”