NAPLES, Fla. — Neighbors in the Greater Naples area are concerned that their new fire station still isn't open.
Chief Nolan Sapp, Greater Naples Fire Rescue District, says there have even been rumors that station 25 would never open.
“There is a political climate out there that is trying to perceive that we don't want to open that station, that is false,” said Sapp.
Sapp says the firehouse was built back in March 2021, during a time when the pandemic was also impacting first responders.
“We were going through a peak with COVID, and I had a number of people that were out with COVID, anywhere from 3-10 people a day that was out for that,” said Sapp.
Now county commissioners are asking the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District to create a plan that will get the station up and running.
It’s a task Chief Sapp only has a few weeks to put together.
“We are looking at cost-effectiveness, for staffing purposes we are looking at call volume needs we are taking all of that into account we intend to open that station in the near future,” he said.
If they can't work out a way to staff the station, in-house,
Fire Chief Sapp says hiring firefighters will cost money-and the budget for next year is already set.
“We don't have any of our tax dollars in the construction of the building, the only money that we have tied to that station is for apparatus that we bought that we would move in there when we got to a point, and it was ready for us to move in there,” said Sapp.
A time they hope is coming soon.
Station 25, which is located off The Lords Way in Naples will cut down response time to communities south of the new station.
An area Chief Sapp says more families are moving into.
"You know we always want to add additional stations. we want to provide the best coverage the best care that we can for our citizens and I want to do that globally across all 1,512 square miles of our fire district,” said Sapp.
Plans to finalize the proposal will be at the next commissioner's meeting, on November 9.