LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - Two of the five Lehigh Acres fire stations are still shut down due to damage from Hurricane Irma, and it may be affecting response times.
All 5 fire stations suffered damage from Irma. The most extensive damage was at stations 101 on Joel Boulevard and 102 on Homestead Road. The damage was so severe, including roof damage and interior water damage, the stations have been deemed uninhabitable.
Firefighters are currently working out of the other three stations, according to Fire Chief Robert Dilallo.
“We took a pretty good hit here in Lehigh Acres. The eye of the storm came right over us,” Dilallo said.
It’s been difficult for the department to find contractors to repair damage and find temporary homes for their firefighters due to the high demand and work load on contractors across the country.
“I’m sure there is a little bit of a delay because they’re coming from out of the zone but that’s why we’re trying to get these temporary facilities up and running so we can get back in the response zones,” said Dilallo.
“It makes me feel a little nervous,” said George Garcia, a Lehigh Resident who’s used to having the fire station nearby.
Trailers are being installed at stations 101 and 102 to serve as temporary housing while the permanent buildings are being repaired so that crews can be closer to the communities they serve.
“Those trailers are a godsend because they’re going to allow us to be more spread out in the district to be able to cover areas that need coverage,” said Abner Adorno, a firefighter paramedic with the department.
“It’s a little cramped for some peoples’ liking,” Adorno said, describing the cozy station atmosphere since Irma.
“Once we get the temporary stations up and running, there will be no delay to citizens,” Dilallo said.
He hopes to have the trailers operation in the next couple of weeks and is working with the department insurance agency to repair the buildings. It’s unclear the total cost of the damage or when the stations will be functional.