EAST MANATEE -- The East Manatee Fire Rescue District is looking to rebuild a fire station at 803 60th St. Ct. E and add a training tower at its administration office on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
The fire district placed public notices Sunday requesting architectural and engineering work for a 7,000-square-foot fire station on the present 2-acre site of Station No. 2 off State Road 64 East, and to construct a training tower at its headquarters.
The 30-year-old Station No. 2 is made of metal, becoming less resistant to hurricane conditions and still runs on a septic system, said Fire Chief Byron Teates. The fire district wants to replace the 6,000-square-foot building with a larger, concrete structure.
"It's old and needs to be replaced," Teates said. "It's a little too early to say exactly what we're looking for."
For three decades, the fire district had been using city streets and old buildings to train because it never had its own facility.
Last year, the district began developing a training center at its administration campus behind Station No. 1, complete with mock neighborhood streets, fire hydrants and underground gas lines -- but no tower.
The district is now calling for plans to add a multi-story training tower that crews can use to practice different emergency scenarios.
"We've never had a training facility of our own that we can utilize when we want to and in a safe manner," Teates said. "A lot of the training over the years has been done out in public streets, and it's not exactly the safest place to hold training."
Ron Koper, Manatee County's director of public safety, said the training tower would provide a more controlled environment for training burns as opposed to using a vacant building.
"That's a less stable, unpredictable environment than using a concrete block or structure," Koper said, "And you're at the whim of when there may be an available building that's going to be demolished, but if you have your own training site, you can repeat daily or weekly."
Teates said the fire district trains seven days a week.
The deadline for firms to submit plans to the fire district is 4 p.m. on July 4.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@sabrinarocco.