East Milton Blaze Administration Arch Robert Toole stood in a barn absorbed to an abandoned brick architecture anon abaft the Peter Prince Airport on Thursday morning, with stars in his eyes and a bounce in his step.
The self-proclaimed 52-year-old “country boy” cutting steel-toed boots coiled his duke beyond the 15,000-square-foot abandoned allowance and absurdly talked about how abundant lifesaving equipment he could fit inside, breadth the firefighters’ weight allowance could go, breadth they ability assuredly accept amplitude for that new blaze barter they’re declared to get abutting year.
The brick building, currently abandoned but busy by Pike Electric Corp., is a far cry from the 2,000-square-foot firehouse currently active by the East Milton Blaze Department, the abode the administration has alleged home aback 1965. Its accepted firehouse is an unassuming, abandoned cinderblock architecture on Ward Basin Road that has abundant structural problems, is riddled with atramentous cast and aloof almost can account the 50-square-mile and growing East Milton association the administration is charged to protect.
East Milton Blaze Arch Robert Toole, continuing in the white shirt, talks to his firefighters in the active breadth of their blaze base on Thursday, Oct. 8. The arch is arch the allegation to get a new blaze base for the East Milton Blaze Department, about 3.5 afar abroad in the county’s automated esplanade complex.
“You’re affectionate of abashed aback bodies appear in actuality and go, ‘this is your blaze station?'” Toole said. “Unfortunately, it is what it is. I’m actual afraid to get out of here because I fabricated a affiance to my guys that afore I go out and retire, I will accept them new accessories and a new firehouse and accord these guys article to be appreciative of.”
Toole assuredly ability be able to accomplish his affiance to his firefighters, with the Lath of Canton Commissioners on Thursday actually voting to accept administering due activity on the 15,000-square-foot brick architecture amid abaft the airport. Admitting it’s busy by Pike Electric, the aggregation arranged up and confused some time ago alike admitting it has two years larboard on its lease.
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The buyer of the building, above Escambia Canton Commissioner Wilson Robertson, said he would be accommodating to advertise the architecture to the canton for $750,000 to use as the new East Milton Blaze Department. If Robertson gets a allegation from the canton to acquirement the building, he would approach Pike about abandoning the butt of the lease, and the blaze administration could move in as aboriginal as abutting year if things go according to plan.
But Toole would move in tomorrow if he could. The 30-year adept of the East Milton Blaze Administration and its arch for the accomplished bristles years said the amplitude is actually absolute for blaze administration operations. There’s amplitude for assorted applesauce apartment and bathrooms, a training center, offices, a galley and, conceivably best chiefly to the firefighters, a anatomic banderole pole.
“Every firefighter who has appear here, that’s the aboriginal affair they’ve noticed, it has a absolute banderole pole,” said firefighter Lathan Simonton, acquainted that the banderole pole at the accepted base has been burst for years and beats up adjoin the architecture whenever there’s alike a little bit of wind. “We can’t delay to fly a big ol’ American banderole appropriate out front.”
East Milton Blaze Arch Robert Toole walks in the barn of a architecture he hopes the canton will buy for the blaze department. The arch is arch the allegation to get a new blaze base for the East Milton Blaze Department, about 3.5 afar abroad in the county’s automated esplanade complex.
The proposed base itself is about 3,000 aboveboard feet, and the absorbed warehouse, which would abode blaze trucks and equipment, is about 15,000 aboveboard feet. It already has three 16-foot bay doors, the absolute acme for abetment in blaze trucks.
“It’s breathtaking, to be honest with you,” Toole said.
The East Milton Blaze Administration has been angry for years to get a new blaze station, but was met with authoritative obstacles and allotment issues forth the way that accept kept it from accomplishing its dream.
The administration got a 3-acre acreage donation aftermost year on which the canton said it would body a new base by 2020, but with the end of the year nearing, no advance has been made.
The Pike architecture already has all the appropriate anchorage and infrastructure, admitting it would charge accessory adjustment to accommodate a blaze department. Its alone botheration is that it’s located arctic of the alternation advance that bifurcate East Milton, which could be an issue as far as acknowledgment times are anxious if a firetruck gets ashore cat-and-mouse for a alternation to cross.
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Toole said that botheration is apparent by a substation it already has on U.S. 87, south of the alternation tracks.
District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole said he’s toured the Pike architecture and batten awful in favor of the canton advancing it as a accurate advantage at Thursday morning’s meeting, adage canton agents and the lath “very actively need to move this brawl forward.”
“I don’t anticipate I accept to acquaint any of my adolescent lath associates the acute charge for a firehouse to alter the one on Ward Basin Road,” Cole said. “The arch and crews out there accept put up with a lot of ache over the years. That base has served well, but East Milton continues to abound at a amount aloof like the blow of the county.”
The accepted base has cracks in its cinder block walls, the foundation is alpha to warp, and there’s alone one baby applesauce allowance with a distinct applesauce bed, which doubles as an office. The altered couches in the capital active breadth are absurd and alveolate in aback that’s breadth firefighters mostly beddy-bye instead of the applesauce room.
The distinct applesauce room/office amplitude for the East Milton Blaze Department.
The base has apparent about a 50% access in calls in the accomplished three years, and currently runs about 150 calls per month. It services 50 aboveboard afar of East Milton, including seven afar of interstate, and has 16 firefighters — six of them actuality paid, the blow volunteers.
When Hurricane Sally confused through on Sept. 16, the base had about an inch and a bisected of baptize on the floors because of the rain seeping through all the holes in the walls.
“We’d get aback from a call, squee-gee the station, and afresh do it all again,” Toole said.
There’s no way the administration can abide confined the growing Milton association out of its accepted station, firefighters said. A new 1,200-lot subdivision is activity up nearby, and anniversary new abode and business is a new article the blaze base has to protect, whether it’s able to or not.
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It’s a agnate botheration that blaze stations throughout the canton accept been aggressive over the accomplished few years, as the county’s atomic advance has put a ache on admired lifesaving resources. Gulf Breeze, for example, is because affective its blaze administration from advance to all-paid to accumulate up with demand; City of Milton blaze appear its busiest year on almanac in 2019 and is on clip to breach that almanac afresh this year, and Midway Blaze Rescue is in the bosom of an aggressive seven-year plan to bifold its workforce and cardinal of stations in adjustment to accumulate up with the added than 250 houses per year added to its district.
East Milton, which is adjourned by a Municipal Services Benefit Unit, says it’s acquainted decidedly larboard abaft during the advance aeon and aloof wants to accumulate up so it can bigger serve its growing community.
“All in all this would be a win-win for the canton and this district,” said firefighter Joshua Pittman, who additionally serves as the blaze commune lath president. “I’ve been actuality for 13 years and this abode has apparent annihilation but growth. There’s all this amplification activity on, and we’re aloof aggravating to accumulate up with the admeasurement of it all. We accumulate accepting to add personnel. At the end of the day, we can’t accumulate application everybody from that one little station. We aloof can’t.”
Annie Blanks can be accomplished at email@example.com or 850-435-8632.
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