Wesley Chapel now has Pasco County’s second largest fire station, and the opening of Station 13 was celebrated at a ribbon cutting on May 30.
The 9,400-square-foot station, off Old Pasco Road and Dayflower Boulevard, became operational several weeks before the celebration because the original station — which had been next to it — was torn down.
Despite the blistering heat, a crowd of firefighters, county officials and local residents gathered for the event.
The new station improves the county’s ability to respond to emergencies in the growing Wesley Chapel community.
“The new station is much larger [and] able to accommodate more firefighters,” explained Chief Scott Cassin, who oversees all county stations. “We were just maxed out over at the old station. It was too small for the growing community around here.”
The $3.5 million project was funded by the Penny for Pasco program.
Station 13 has three drive-thru bays, which can accommodate five vehicles, including a fire engine, an ambulance, a tanker and a brush truck.
Each rotating shift will be staffed by six firefighters, which includes one paramedic. A battalion chief also will be on duty.
The station is designed to house 10 firefighters, each with their own bunkrooms. The station also has a physical fitness area and a kitchen. There’s also a storage space for equipment.
And, there’s a sheriff’s substation.
“The station is also environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and storm-hardened, which are all critical elements in today’s infrastructure,” the chief added.
In addition to safety precautions, all vehicles will be hooked up to a diesel exhaust extraction system. With this, exhaust fumes will be vented out from the trucks to the outdoors.
“That way none of that diesel exhaust is in the air that we’re breathing,” Cassin said.
Many in the community came out to celebrate the opening, including Cypress Creek Middle-High School Principal Carin Hetzler-Nettles and student Sam Mazzeo.
“We have an incredible partnership with Station 13,” Hetzler-Nettles said. “They are our responding station.”
The importance of the station’s proximity to the school was evident last year when Mazzeo suffered a cardiac arrest on the school field.
An AED machine and CPR had to be used at the school to keep Mazzeo’s heart going before the firefighters arrived and rushed him to the hospital.
“I appreciate all the work you did,” the 18-year-old said, before the staff.
As a token of gratitude, the principal and senior student presented the station with a framed No. 13 Cypress Creek sports jersey.
Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore, who oversees the district where the station is located, offered a few words.
“This station means an improved level of service for both our citizens and our fire rescue team to serve one of the fastest-growing areas in the state, and actually the country,” Moore said.
He also added: “When I first came on as a county commissioner, one of the things we promised was we were going to make public safety one of our top priorities. I’m confident that we’ve done that, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Jackie Parker was one of many who endured the sweltering heat to join the occasion.
She has been living in Wesley Chapel for more than 40 years and hasn’t had concerns about safety – knowing Station 13 is not far away.
“The department here has been quick to respond to needs in the community, and they’re very efficient,” she mentioned.
In fact, Parker witnessed the building of the original station in 1979, recalling when the antique fire trucks used to be parked on residents’ yards.
More Pasco residents will be put at ease when Wesley Chapel’s Station 38 will be opened late summer this year.
The opening of the sister station will reduce Station 13’s coverage zone, enabling quicker response times, Cassin said.
The occasion was marked with a traditional ribbon cutting ceremony.
With scissors handy, Commissioner Moore and County Attorney Jeff N. Steinsnyder, joined Chief Cassin, as well as Chief Mark Spudie, Fire Marshal Karl Thompson and Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Mike Cassano in cutting a big red ribbon.
In a closing remark, Cassin said, “It’s time now to make new memories and turn the page to the next chapter in our history.”
After that, those attending were welcomed inside for a tour and refreshments.
Published June 05, 2019