To ensure continuing public safety in West Orange, two local fire stations that, prior to Oct. 1, operated with just 12-hour rescue units, were given two new rescue units to accommodate the area’s rapidly growing population.
The shiny new vehicles, equipped with the latest tech essential to saving lives in emergency situations, were made possible through Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs’ INVEST program — a $300 million initiative to invest in a multitude of projects with long-term benefits for citizens.
The initiative allocated $30 million to Orange County Fire Rescue, which was divvied up to provide funding for the construction of three new fire stations ($18 million); new apparatus and equipment ($7 million); and partial funding for a new regional fire training facility ($5 million).
Part of the $7 million for new apparatus was used to purchase 12 new rescue units — two of which were located to Station 33 at 1700 S. Apopka-Vineland Road and Station 35 at 7435 Winter Garden-Vineland Road.
Neither station previously had units in service 24 hours a day, and both were chosen after a study of calls for assistance from the previous three years revealed coverage gaps in West Orange County. OCFS also moved one of their 12-hour rescue units to station 37 in Oakland.
Although response time was one of the elements factored into the decision, the primary reason for acquiring the new rescue units was to make sure they would be available when needed. Orange County Fire Chief Otto Drozd said that in 2015, Station 33 received 807 medical calls and Station 35 saw 669 medical calls. Drozd expects the new units will significantly expedite their response time for those calls.
“It wasn’t about the first call that came in; it was about the second and third call that would really thin out our resources on the west side,” Drozd said. “So the rescue units that we put in for 24 hours on the west side was to address our unit availability, as well as our response times.”
To staff the three new units, including one supplied to Station 86 near Christmas, OCFS has hired 24 new emergency medical technicians. The three new fire stations it plans to construct — Station 67, Station 87 and Station 68 — are mostly in the east.
“For the organization, it gives us the ability to provide the service that our public needs and deserves to a higher extent than we had been providing it,” Drozd said. “We have been doing it through moving units to fill the gaps, but now we have units (in those gaps), so it really adds to the network of stations that we use to provide that service.”
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected]