Tampa firefighters had a nickname for the Sulphur Springs fire station #11 - the house of pain.
"It's because their (emergency) runs were so many," says Tampa Fire Chief Tom Forward.
This one station fielded then and now about 10 percent of all of Tampa's annual fire emergencies, reaching as many as 8,000 a year. It generally serves the neighborhoods of Sulphur Springs, Forest Hills and Lowry Park.
Today Fire Station #11 is as busy as ever but firefighters are working and sleeping in a much larger, state-of-the-art building. More than a dozen retired firefighters joined with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa Council Chairman Charlie Miranda and City Councilman Harry Cohen to officially welcome residents to an open house of their new fire station.
"In no uncertain terms this is the kind of station...the type of place that is worthy of the efforts (firefighters) put forth for us," Buckhorn says. "The house of pain just got a little better."
The approximately 8,700 square-foot building, at 1500 Waters Ave., replaces the small, aging station that for decades was tucked away on Fairbanks Street inside the Sulphur Springs neighborhood. Firefighters had to maneuver huge fire trucks down narrow residential streets and around tight corners to reach the intersection of Florida and Waters avenues.
The City of Tampa
built the station soon after its annexation of Sulphur Springs in 1954. And, it was very much a neighborhood station. Retired firefighter Jim Galbraith, 69, says a close watch was kept of residents especially the elderly. "They'd call us in the morning," he says. "If we didn't get a call, we'd call them."
At a cost of $1.6 million, the new station has a modern design with a three-bay garage flanked by work and sleeping quarters and giving quick access to Waters. It was built by Pillar Construction
The new station will allow the city to provide a more aggressive response time for this community, Forward says.
Funding is from community investment tax dollars. The station is eco-friendly and has efficiency lighting, solar-powered outside lighting and hot water heating, recycled materials and Florida-friendly landscaping.
The city built Fire Station #22 in New Tampa with a similar design. A third fire station, #19, is expected to open in August in Port Tampa
Source: Tom Forward, Tampa Fire Department
Writer: Kathy Steele