New Tampa’s fourth fire station, Tampa Fire Rescue Station No. 23, is now operational.
Following a grand opening event in January, the station — located just off of County Line Rd. on Trout Creek Dr. — is now handling calls. The new station’s primary area of service are the communities of Grand Hampton, The Hammocks, the Esplanade
Station 23 is the first new station to open in our area since 2012, when Station 22 opened on Cross Creek Blvd. Station 21 also is located on Cross Creek, and Station 20 is located on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd. in Tampa Palms.
All four of the area’s fire stations belong to the City of Tampa and serve residents within the city limits. Residents in unincorporated Hillsborough County, such as Pebble Creek, Cross Creek and Live Oak Preserve are served by a contract with Pasco County, where the service is provided by Pasco Fire Rescue Station 26, located off BBD in the nearby Meadow Pointe I community of Wesley Chapel. There are mutual aid agreements in place, though, for emergencies that require additional help or when a rescue crew is already occupied with another situation.
Station 23 is expected to help to improve response times from Tampa Fire Rescue stations. According to a story in the Tampa Bay Times last year, the 34-square-mile district has a median response time of 8.96 minutes, which is 90 seconds longer than the city’s other four fire department districts.
“We have the worst response times in the City of Tampa (here in New Tampa),” says Luis Viera, District 7 Tampa City Council member, “so Fire Station 23 really goes a long way to addressing that.”
Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Nick LoCicero agrees. “It really affords a more appropriate level of protection for the communities in New Tampa and the general vicinity of where the station is located,” says LoCicero, “It provides a more robust and prompt response for that area.”
He explains it should immediately help the response time in Grand Hampton, which was previously served by the stations on Cross Creek Blvd.
“We are closely watching that and monitoring response times,” Chief LoCicero says. He adds that some of the longer response times are due to subdivisions that have enclaves that are harder to access. “There’s just no easy way to get there,” he says, “but we’re looking for improvement in Grand Hampton.”
LoCicero also explains that Station 23 is part of a phased-in program that included a redistricting last year, creating Fire District 5 that encompasses all of New Tampa. While New Tampa was previously part of a 50-square-mile district, the new District 5 is about 34 square miles.
The new station helps all of New Tampa, so that if multiple calls come in at the same time, or if a fire needs multiple companies to respond, there are more resources within the immediate area to handle those situations.
It includes a truck company, which has a ladder to reach taller buildings and handles primarily search and rescue; an engine company, which has hoses and connects to water to put out fires; and a rescue unit, which is the ambulance to help during non-fire emergencies in our area.
“We’ve gone from 17,000 residents to 60,000 today,” Viera says, “with more coming because of new development and God knows how many new homes in places like K-Bar Ranch. We’re a growing area, and that means the city needs to make more safety infrastructure investments.”
Station 23 includes a training room that will serve all of the fire companies in the area, allowing in-service training on fire and EMS topics to be conducted locally. This minimizes the time fire companies are away from their station due to traveling for training.
LoCicero says the grand opening itself was a nice event that showed the community’s support for its newest fire station.
“It was a warm and gracious reception for all the firefighters there,” he says. “There were quite a few people there, and Winn-Dixie (also off County Line Rd.) was very hospitable and gracious to us. They gave each crew a buggy full of groceries, and Jersey Mike’s provided sandwiches. It’s nice to be appreciated like that.”
He adds, “We’re happy for the community. We know they waited a long time for the station. It will be well served by the men and women of Tampa Fire Rescue.”
Viera suggests that the New Tampa community should check out the area’s newest asset. “It’s a great facility,” he says. “Go by and take a look at it. Oh, and bring some donuts for the first responders.”