Orlando to spend $5 million on new fire station

Orlando Fire Station No. 9, in northwest Orlando, is about to be replaced. It was built in 2011, intended to be a temporary firehouse, but it has served that purpose going on eight years now.

"Our current Fire Station 9 configuration is actually three units runs out of that fire station, an engine, a tower truck and a rescue truck, so we're squeezing a lot more people into a small building," said Rich Wales, Orlando Fire Department Chief.

It's the size of a small two bedroom home but houses 10 first responders at any given time.

"A third of their life, 24 hours at a time, they're spending in this firehouse," said Wales.

He said it is too small and too old. A tour of the facility included a look at a tiny kitchen, small living space and a make-shift gym in the truck bay, without air conditioning. That is why the City of Orlando is shelling out $4.7 million for a new fire station.

The planned state-of-the-art facility, on the same site, will feature private bedrooms, a large, open kitchen and living area and an actual gym. The project paid for by a bond that is partially funded through taxpayer dollars. We asked the chief it the money is worth the investment.

"Absolutely, it's worth it!  So we're building a fire station that will get us through the next 50 years," he said. "I believe we also have to think about those first responders that are living in that building, that same structure, that they also need some of the capabilities that the rest of us have, when we're back at home."

Wales added that when first responders are taken care of mentally and physically, they perform at their peak.

"We all are relying on these first responders to get there as quick as they can, as prepared as they can at your bedside at the front of your home, maybe a house fire, I want my firefighters to have every capability of doing it the best way they can," said Wales.

The project will break ground in August 2019, completion is set for Spring of 2020. Fire officials say two other stations are scheduled to be replaced.