LARGO — For several years, plans have been in the works to reconstruct some of Largo’s oldest fire stations. The first on that list is Station 39 in the Ridgecrest area of unincorporated Largo.
Where exactly the station would end up was uncertain, though.
That question was answered Nov. 15 after a deal was struck with Pinellas County to swap a nearby property that better serves the needs of the new station.
City commissioners voted 6-0 to approve the measure for the 5,300-square-foot Station 39, which is at 12398 134th Ave. Commissioner Eric Gerard was absent.
According to Fire Chief Chad Pittman, that location cannot accommodate the expansion needed for the station.
Therefore, a new location was identified, and the county has agreed to convey the property to the city. In exchange, the city will transfer ownership of the existing property, along with an adjacent portion of right-of-way, back to the county, which conveyed ownership of the land to the city in 1978, the year before Station 39 was constructed.
According to city documents, Fire Station 39 has exceeded its useful life and is in need of a roof replacement and internal renovations. The building also has no separate living quarters and has inadequate storage space for the needs of the department.
Pittman said the new site at the northeast corner of Wilcox Road and Jackson Street will give the station more space and will speed up response times.
“The current station is located quite a ways away from Ulmerton Road. The new station is located in closer proximity to Ulmerton Road for quicker access,” Pittman said about the site that is next to the Florida Department of Health facility. “So going to calls either east or west on Ulmerton or Walsingham (roads) is going to be a quicker response. And I’m talking seconds, but seconds do matter on this.”
While construction is underway, the city and county have also struck a deal that will allow the city to continue use of Station 39.
Otherwise, Largo Fire would have had to find temporary housing, which can be “problematic and expensive,” Pittman said.
Construction of the station is expected to be completed in the spring of 2024.
In 2020, the city agreed to pay $430,000 to Wannemacher Jensen Architects Inc. for not only construction documents for Station 39, but to also create a master fire station design to be used in multiple sites.
Stations 38 and 42 are next in line for reconstruction projects.
Station 38, which was constructed in 1986, needs a new roof and HVAC system. The building also needs updates to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the living quarters need a redesign.
Station 42, which was built in 1978, requires a new building with better access for apparatus and better separation of living quarters for firefighters, according to city budget documents.
The projects will require considerate funding using Penny for Pinellas sales tax revenue.
In FY 2023, $7 million has been budgeted for the projects, followed by $2.1 million in FY 2026 and another $7.15 million in FY 2027.