By Fadia Patterson Hillsborough County
UPDATED 8:50 AM ET Apr. 14, 2021 PUBLISHED 10:11 AM ET Apr. 13, 2021
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY – The Hillsborough County Firefighters Union says the county has fallen behind on its public safety plan due to lack of funding.
Fire Rescue master plan says 24 stations needed to sustain growth through 2030
Commissioner Kimberly Overman says the county inherited the problem from previous administrations
“We’re being over utilized,” said Union Executive Officer Chris Boles. “You have the emotional and physical stress that comes along with this kind of job.” Boles says the current number of firehouses falls short of the demands of an ever increasing population.
The Fire Rescue Master Plan – first commissioned in 2003 and updated in 2019 – revealed 24 new stations were needed to sustain population growth through the year 2030. “What that is identifying is gaps in the system,” Boles adds.
The county has self-imposed goals that Boles says are becoming difficult to meet. Target response times for urban areas are six minutes. For suburban zones, it’s seven minutes and for rural areas it is 10 minutes.
Commissioner Kimberly Overman says the county inherited this problem from previous administrations. “Part of the reasons that we addressed impact fees is because we were not charging enough to build the stations that we needed,” said Overman.
This week the County Commission approved updates to another station. New stations are currently being built in Riverview and Brandon.
Commissioner Overman says raising the fire impact fees will assist in fixing an issue that has been held off for too long. “The last thing you want is for your house to catch on fire and the fire department can’t show up,” added Overman. “We really can’t hold it off much longer. We are growing at a rapid rate. So it’s important that we deploy the funds that we do collect in a responsible manner.”