What’s old is new and in the case of the Marco Island Fire-Rescue District’s Station 51, much improved and definitely welcomed.
The East Elkcam Circle facility reopened recently, and the occasion was marked by a dedication ceremony that attracted a host of city and state officials, and local business people and residents.
Station 51 had been out of commission since July of 2016, when a lightning strike caused a fire while the firefighters were away on a call. The blaze rendered the building unusable. Just three years earlier, it had been reopened after several years of dormancy, which improved response times to that section of the island.
To maintain those improved response times, the city placed a trailer at the neighboring Marco Utility Complex, as a temporary base of operations until the station was replaced.
“It’s something the city needed,” said Marco City Councilor Victor Rios, shortly before the ceremony began. “This way, we’re covering the other side of the island, so I think it improves service. This building here, it’s good for the staff. The building that was here, it was a disgrace, to be honest with you. But this is a state-of-the-art facility and like I said, it’s going to serve the other side of the island quicker.”
The new, two-story facility can house two to three fire-rescue vehicles at a time on the ground floor. The second story contains the main living area, which includes five bunk rooms, three separate shower rooms, three public rooms, an expansive combination dayroom-kitchen and more.
The 9,000 square-foot building is hurricane proof up to 185 mph, providing a sturdy structure for the department to base operations during storms. It can also house department personnel and other city employees, if necessary, during emergencies. The building also has its own power supply, in the event electricity is interrupted.
$3.8 million project was funded by a $1 million state grant, along with funds from the city’s “rainy day” fund and a settlement from the city’s insurer for Station 51 at the time of the fire.
The city’s fire-rescue chief, Mike Murphy, served as the dedication ceremony’s master of ceremonies. During his remarks, he said the station serves as an example of government at its best.
“It was a collaborative effort between the city and the state and the citizens of this island and the state Fire Marshal’s office to support one of the primary functions of local government; the provision of health, safety and the welfare of you our citizens and our visitors,” he added.
Murphy praised State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and State Rep. Bob Rommel for their support in securing funds for Station 51, and the effort to receive state grants for the upcoming renovation of Station 50, which is located adjacent to city hall.
Dianna Dohm, executive director of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce and president of the Marco Island Fire Foundation was among the dignitaries in attendance. She said the foundation worked tremendously hard to support the project.
“We’re so excited to have this big beautiful facility here right in the middle of the island,” she said. “Now we look forward to taking (Station) 50 and working on it to make it just as beautiful as this one; and functional. That’s the key. We want functionality and that’s exactly what they’ve designed here is functionality.”