Modern, bigger and in a more centralized location for its service area, South Brandon Fire Station No. 7 is set for its grand opening on Bloomingdale Avenue in Valrico, with a museum plan in the works for the station it replaced less than two miles away.
An open house celebration for the station at 1292 Bloomingdale Ave., near Bloomingdale High and the Bloomingdale Regional Library, is set to begin Aug. 14 at 10 a.m., featuring a traditional celebration on par with a ribbon-cutting observance.
“We uncouple the hoses, which is our version of the ribbon-cutting ceremony,” said Hillsborough County Fire Rescue spokesperson Ronnie Rivera. “We are planning to have kids activities, and we’ll be serving small refreshments. People can come in and tour the station.”
Rivera said the new station would better meet the needs of its service area.
“We needed a more modern building and the location, strategically, will help with response times” to calls in the Brandon, Bloomingdale, Valrico, Riverview, Lithia service area, said Rivera, who serves as president of the HCFR Foundation.
Founded in 2013, the foundation aims to support fire rescue with programs and services.
“Tax dollars can do so much,” Rivera added. “Having the foundation in place allows Hillsborough County Fire Rescue to provide additional programs and services, such as smoke alarms, fire safety education and an annual awards banquet for firefighters.”
Rivera said foundation officials have an idea for how best to use the now-vacant fire station, at 122 West Bloomingdale Ave., should the county lease it back to the nonprofit.
“We are trying to convert that whole building into a fire museum,” Rivera said. “It’s not set in stone, but that’s what we’re thinking, that’s what we would like to do as a foundation. We’re working on it with [Hillsborough County] Commissioner [Stacy] White and county officials. We don’t want to use tax dollars on anything like that so our nonprofit foundation would have to take it on.”
As envisioned, the museum would allow the “community to check out our fire history” and “at the same time we could use the building for fire safety education and maybe have birthday parties there,” Rivera said. “Kids would love that.”
Meanwhile, South Brandon Fire Station No. 7 is set to open as one of the 43 stations under the umbrella of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, manned by more than 1,100 active, paid firefighters. According to county officials, the new three-bay, 9,300- square-foot fire station cost about $2.3 million to construct, with dollars secured through impact fees, unincorporated area construction funds and the Public Safety Improvement Bond Project program.
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