This is an article that appeared in the Gainesville Sun
New Waldo fire station ready for next 50 years
Residents of Waldo and northeastern Alachua County now have a new fire station that should serve them for at least 50 years.
Alachua County Fire Rescue Station No. 40, 14377 NE U.S. Highway 301 in Waldo, officially opened its doors with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning.
The station will serve residents of Waldo and other parts of northeastern Alachua County. The 5,684-square-foot facility cost $1.776 million, which was $347,000 less than its estimated cost. Construction of the facility began in September 2016 and was completed last month.
“Today is a good day because we are adding an additional facility to our fire station inventory,” said Charlie Jackson, the county’s facilities manager.
The facility is designed to withstand hurricanes and other severe weather that will enable it to be operational at all times for at least 50 years, said Bill Northcutt, chief of Alachua County Fire Rescue.
“We didn’t have a short-term vision for this project,” Northcutt said.
Harold Theus, deputy chief of Alachua County Fire Rescue, said the new station is about a quarter mile west of the old station, and houses a brush truck used to help put out wildfires, a fire truck and a water tanker that is used in areas that don’t have fire hydrants.Four firefighters will be on duty at all times. The station is equipped with sleeping quarters, a kitchen, bathrooms and showers, and an exercise gym.
It also has two bays to park two of its three vehicles and could be expanded to allow a third bay, Jackson said.
New fire stations are built for one of two reasons, Theus said.
“They are needed in remote areas that need better service times or they are needed in areas that have high call loads,” he said.
The merger of Waldo’s fire rescue department into the county’s fire rescue department was recommended in a fire and emergency management system master plan created by the county in 2004, said Ken Cornell, chair of the county commission.
Five years later, Waldo agreed to merge its fire services with the county, and after that, “transferred the title to the old station and the ownership of vehicles, equipment inventory and fire rescue station to the county,” Cornell said.
Waldo transferred property for the new station to the county in 2014, Cornell said, adding the cost to build the station was put in the county’s fiscal year 2017 budget.
Dudley Wade, who has lived in Waldo for 45 years, said the city needed a new fire station.
“This station will make it easier to maintain equipment, and the morale of the firefighters will increase because they are in a modern facility,” said Walker, 67, who served as chief of the Waldo volunteer fire department from 1983 to 1993.
Mary Rich, a 74-year-old lifelong Waldo resident, said the station is welcome by all it will serve.
“I think this is going to be a great benefit to us in Waldo and those around us,” Rich said.