Historic City News local reporters have learned that Fire Station 15 located in north central St. Johns County has come on-line; is fully staffed and operational on a full-time basis, twenty four hours – seven days a week.
The St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners voted on March 15th to accept a $1.4 million federal grant, which provided the funding required to employee 12 new firefighters for the next two years.
SAFER grants – which stand for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response – are distributed annually through the Department of Homeland Security to enhance local fire departments’ ability to meet national standards regarding staffing, deployment, response and operations.
The opening of Fire Station 15 will fill the primary coverage hole in north central St. Johns County, providing timely emergency fire and medical response to the residents and businesses of the Palencia, Kensington, Walden Chase, Las Calinas and Pine Island areas, as well as Nease High School and the heavily traveled US-1 North corridor.
Without acceptance of the SAFER grant, Fire Station 15 would have remained closed until another revenue source could have been identified. The grant allowed the County to open the Pine Island Road station, including an advanced life support engine, without incurring the costs of the 12 new firefighters required to staff the station — until the third year.
During that time, the station is anticipated to improve response times within already established service areas by limiting responses out of these primary zones as well as providing additional support within these zones as needed.
With budgets in the spotlight, it is important to note that the County’s fire fund is operating at a deficit due to declining property values and is anticipated to be financially insolvent by 2013.
Although the Commission acknowledged the need to address the financial condition of the fire fund, they voted in favor of accepting the federal grant — including the stipulation that the County retain the positions and fund them for a third year.
Already established service areas of the county around the airport, World Golf Village, County Road 210, Nocatee and Palm Valley have specifically been identified to receive relief as a result of opening Station 15.
St. Johns County Fire Rescue plans to host a community open house at Fire Station 15 early this fall.
Should you have questions relating to changing Insurance Service Ratings (ISO) as a result of Station 15 being operational, please contact St. Johns County Fire Rescue at (904) 209-1700.
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer