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Bonita Fire: new station needed for beach area

Posted at 6:55 PM, Dec 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-10 18:55:17-05

Bonita Springs Fire Chief Joseph Daigle told Fox 4 that his department needs a new station to provide life-saving services on Little Hickory Island, which includes much of the city's beach frontage.

"To get halfway up the island for any type of emergency now takes us about 7 minutes of travel time, which is excessive for our needs," Daigle said. "The idea is to make sure we fill what we consider a hole in our coverage."

The fire district is considering two potential sites, both on the corner of Hickory Boulevard and McLaughlin Boulevard.

But resident Keith Copeland, who lives on McLaughlin, said the site on the south side of that boulevard is part of a wetland. He doesn't want to see a fire station built there.

"Once the fire department - I think - starts pouring concrete in those wetlands, the developers are going to be here running," Copeland said.

 The Bonita Springs Fire District has also been in talks with the owners of a building on the north side of McLaughlin Boulevard, from which they could operate emergency medical services, but not fire engines. One advantage to that building is that it backs onto a canal.

"We could put (in) a dock and put our rescue boat out there," Daigle said. "Right now, we're running about 50 or so boat rescue calls a year."

Copeland feels that any new station station should be built further north on the island - away from the wetlands.

"I know there's a lot of other political and environmental considerations that need to be taken into account, which will be discussed at different levels of government," Daigle said.

The fire commission plans on making a final decision about a new station site in March.