Seven months from ground-breaking, Lake Wales cut the ribbon to the city’s second fire station, Lake Wales North, located at 600 Chalet Suzanne Road.
The cost of the project was budgeted at $1.2 million dollars, however, Fire Chief Joe Jenkins says the fire department is, so far, under that budget amount, though there are a few things yet to be purchased for the station.
Residents of Carlsberg Estates presented a plaque and a check to the fire department for $162 “for extra furniture” or whatever is needed, in appreciation of the city building a station near the development.
Jenkins said that back in 2005, it became obvious to city officials that another fire station was needed, as Lake Ashton was growing, Dinner Lake Shores, and Carlsberg Estates, in addition to several other developments in the area, and homeowners in the city were having a hard time obtaining homeowners insurance, since they lived farther than five miles away from the fire station.
The city took out a $1.2 million loan, and the plans were approved in July 2013.
Jenkins says that it was difficult to find property.
Initially, the city inhabited a temporary fire station in front of Florida Food Tankers, while they searched for a spot to place the new fire department.
The market in 2005 was such that property was so expensive, but by 2008 the values had decreased, making it truly a buyer’s market, and that is when the city purchased the piece at Chalet Suzanne Road.
The new station is manned 24 hours a day, and is a smaller version of the fire department on Central Avenue in downtown Lake Wales.
However, it does have one upgrade, the truck exhaust capture system.
This is a long hose that has a magnet on it and attaches to the exhaust of the fire trucks as they come into the bay to park.
“There is no emissions being spilled into the station,” Jenkins said.
“They are all captured and exhausted out.”
The magnet then falls off as they drive away to their next call.
“Diesel has benzyne, a known carcinogen,” Jenkins said.
The chief notes that a lot of firefighters go their whole career and never see a new facility built.
“Some of the firefighters here have now seen two — the one built downtown and this one on Chalet Suzanne Road. It’s nice to see the department grow, mainly for the fact that it’s going to allow us to provide better service to the customers, the citizens,” he adds.
The phone number to the new fire department is 863-949-4853.