NEW TAMPA — Fire Station 21 is responsible for protecting hundreds of New Tampa homes and businesses.
The station's round-the-clock staff generally handles the job well, usually arriving on scene within six minutes of receiving a call.
But the Tampa Fire Rescue department has noticed that response times grow for calls on the edge of the station's coverage area. Also, when there are multiple calls at once or a massive fire, it takes too long for backup units to arrive from other parts of Tampa.
A second New Tampa fire station will help address those concerns.
"Getting emergency responders on scene quickly is very important when it comes to saving lives and protecting property," said Capt. Bill Wade, the fire department's spokesman.
Last week, ground was broken on Fire Station 22, which will be on Cross Creek Boulevard near Morris Bridge Road. This new station is about 4.5 miles down the road from Station 21, which is near the intersection of Cross Creek and Bruce B. Downs boulevards.
Construction should take eight or nine months. When it is finished, Station 22 will be home to a fire engine, brush truck and a rotating staff of four.
It is expected to instantly help reduce response times in New Tampa, as well as help ensure that the department can handle expected growth in the community.
Several years ago, the department compared Station 21's response times with three others in the West Shore area, downtown and North Tampa.
In all four instances, the first fire engines and rescue units arrived on scene between four and six minutes after the call was received. But it took a second engine 14 minutes to assist Station 21, while backup for the other stations arrived in six to nine minutes.
"The first few companies really need to get there in the first few minutes to get the work started," Wade said.
The $1.58 million price tag for Station 22 comes from federal stimulus money. The city hopes that a similar grant might help it bring a third fire station to New Tampa.
Property near County Line Road and Bruce B. Downs has been purchased and will eventually be home to Station 23. However, there is no money currently budgeted to build the station or hire a staff.
Tia Mitchell can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3405.