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Seminole plans upgrades for 3 of its 4 fire stations

SEMINOLE — Three of the city's four fire stations are slated for work that ranges from preparing them for hurricanes to total replacement.

The remaining station, No. 29, has already been brought up to current codes for hurricane resistance.

The most massive work is planned for Station 32, at 10780 110th Ave. N. The building, constructed in 1969 by mostly volunteer firefighters, will be razed and rebuilt. A structural engineer has said that bringing it up to current hurricane codes would cost more than the building is worth.

Seminole has already bought two lots for the new station and a retention pond. The city has applied for so-called Obama Dollars to cover the majority of the estimated $1.7 million to $2 million cost, Seminole fire Chief Dan Graves said.

If Seminole gets the federal money, it will use its local funds for work on Station 30. If the city does not get the money, the construction would have to wait until the city saves enough.

When built, Station 32 would be able to withstand a Category 5 hurricane with sustained winds of 156-plus miles per hour.

Station 31, at 13091 88th Ave. N, will need the least work. Built in 1974, it has the capability of withstanding hurricane winds of up to 100 mph. It will be strengthened to bring it into compliance with current codes so that it could withstand Category 4 winds of up to about 143.5 mph. Other work will include repaving and replacement of the heating and air conditioning system.

Station 31 is only a mile from Pinellas Suncoast Station 28. The county has considered closing one of the stations, saying there is not enough work for two crews in that area. But Graves said Seminole is not jumping the gun by renovating its station before a final decision is made about future fire and EMS delivery in the area.

The city, he said, is upgrading all its buildings and has a responsibility to protect its workers so they can help nearby residents after a catastrophe. The work, he said, is not likely to have any effect on the county's decision to leave open one or the other station.

Work is estimated to cost $200,000 to $300,000 and is likely to begin soon. Bids will be opened in mid February.

Station 30, at 8971 Starkey Road N, has long been a concern of Seminole officials. The station is so close to the eastern edge of Starkey that fire trucks are just off the road when they leave the station. That situation will get worse when Starkey is widened in the next few years.

The station will not lose right of way, but the wider road will mean the nose of the trucks will be in Starkey when they've barely cleared the building.

Seminole officials asked the county in 2005 for permission to build a new station. The county's permission was needed since it finances about 75 percent of Station 30's operations, much of it in the unincorporated area. But the county refused to help finance the estimated $2.5 million to $3 million cost. It suggested warning lights be installed to stop oncoming traffic when trucks leave the station.

Among the work slated for that building is bringing it up to current hurricane codes, like Station 31. But the city also wants to reconfigure the station to make it safer once Starkey is widened.

It is unclear how much the renovations will cost. Graves said Seminole is looking for architects to propose a design and estimate the cost. If it will cost too much to renovate, the city could decide to rebuild there or elsewhere.

Seminole plans upgrades for 3 of its 4 fire stations 01/23/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 22, 2010 6:41pm]
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