It’s been a long time coming, but Fire Station Three is finally up and running.
The city held a small dedication and hose uncoupling ceremony Tuesday afternoon for a select group of invitees in order to keep attendance down. The facility will be open for a public open house and tour sometime in November once the facility is fully operational. The ceremony was streamed on the City of Plant City Government’s Facebook page.
“On behalf of the members of Plant City Fire Rescue and the City of Plant City we would like to welcome you to this very special day, the dedication of Fire Station Three,” Fire Chief David Burnett said. “The completion of Fire Station Three is a monumental moment not only for the members of the Fire Department, but also for the community we serve.”
For those who have been following the saga, the event seemed like a sigh of relief. The city broke ground on the site back in September 2018. At the time, that was a celebration in and of itself as there were plenty of speed bumps the city had to navigate to even get to that ceremony. No one expected it to take more than two years to bring it to life.
The facility is located on Park Road near the Mike E. Sansone Commuity Park.
Complications originally bumped the completion date from June 2019 to April 2020. There was a supply shortage, a lack of skilled construction workers in the industry and internal issues of the construction company that led to a revolving door of superintendents and project managers. Then the pandemic hit and the dedication ceremony was suddenly slid all the way to October 2020.
So the mood was beyond jovial Tuesday afternoon as the small crowd gathered to celebrate the opening of the station and cheer along with the fire rescue crew at the unveiling of the gorgeous facility.
Commissioner Mike Sparkman shared stories of growing up as a local high school student who volunteered for the fire department. He remembered having to work with old and degraded equipment and said he vowed all those decades ago to do everything he could to ensure the fire department always had the top equipment so it could serve the community to the best of its ability.
“Striking” is the word many used to describe the new station. Even from the road, it draws the eye with a set of massive glass walls that display an original 1927 American LaFrance Fire Engine as well as glass hangar doors to give a peek inside at the in-service trucks and equipment. Pair that with the exposed brick and you’ve got one sleek facility.
The new fire station will enhance current levels of service as well as put the city in a proactive position for the growth that is on its way on that side of town. North Park Isle, which is set to be built north of I-4, is planned along with a variety of other residential communities for the surrounding area and there will soon be an even stronger demand for emergency service stations on the northeast side of town.
“Fire Station Three is an 8,400-square foot facility that’s built to keep up with the growth via quick response to the northeast quadrant of the city,” Burnett said. “When needed, the assets within this fire station are going to enhance our first response to the rest of the city. The station includes three drive-through truck bays. Has the capacity of holding six apparatuses.”
Vice Mayor Nate Kilton said the location of the fire station sends a message of how the city wants to present itself to the rest of the world: that Plant City is proud of who it is and what it does. He said he is very proud of the continued progress the city has made.
“Certainly the most important thing we do in city government is safety for our citizens, from our Police Department to our Fire Rescue. That’s priority number one,” Kilton said. “Having this fire station sends the message loud and clear that in Plant City we love our first responders and we want them to have all the tools that they need to do their job well. Chief Burnett, we have so much respect for you and all of your team members from your leadership team to all of your staff for the job that we do.”