PINELLAS PARK — The Florida National Guard will build a new, $5.7 million facility in Pinellas Park to house its 22-person Civil Support Team, which is now in temporary leased quarters at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport.
The 16,200-square-foot facility will be on a site at the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center on Grand Avenue.
The Guard was told the money has been set aside for construction in the Department of Defense budget. But a start date on construction is not yet known, according to the Guard.
The 48th Civil Support Team is one of two in the state that provides rapid assistance to state and local authorities when they need help identifying chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear "agents or substances" and assists in plotting out an appropriate emergency response, the Guard says. The team also is involved in disaster response.
Lt. Col. Joe Defee, commander of the team, said the building was a "crucial piece" of the unit's response plan. "It will be built and configured to provide the (team) the means to systematically load personnel and equipment, and rapidly deploy within 30 minutes," Defee said.
The building will include an operations center, a medical section, secure communications, a decontamination area, storage rooms and a chemical/biological testing room.
William R. Levesque can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3432