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Tour the new Captiva Island Fire Department July 18; enjoy some BBQ

By Staff | Jul 8, 2015

The Captiva Island Fire Department, which has moved into their new facility, includes (L to R) Chief Rich Dickerson, Deputy Chief Jeff Pawul, Lieutenant Shawn Kilgore, Firefighter/ Paramedic Josh Hulslander, Firefighter/ Paramedic Michael Knight, Commissioner Robert Brace, Commissioner Sherrill Sims, Commissioner Colon Kilgore, Firefighter/ EMT Josh Cline, Firefighter/ Paramedic Paul Morris, Lieutenant Kelli Wilson and Lieutenant Paul DeArmond. PHOTO PROVIDED

It’s been over a four-year process, but the final touches have been made to the brand new Captiva Island Fire Department headquarters, and it’s looking fabulous.

The $3 million facility will make its debut to the public on Saturday, July 18, during an open house from 10 a.m. to noon. A barbecue will be served to the public in honor of the grand opening, with tours being held to show off the CIFD’s new digs.

“Moving in has been nice, but chaotic,” laughed CIFD Fire Chief Rich Dickerson. “But we are now in a state-of-the-art facility.”

The upgrade was major – but needed -from the old facility, which was built in 1980. The biggest positive is the space, including three huge bay units to store engines and potential EMS units, living quarters, office space, training room/areas and a community room to host commission meetings and blood pressure checks for the public.

“It’s fantastic!” added CIFD Deputy Chief Jeff Pawul. “We are glad to get in. We now have our own space, and that’s nice because our (fire fighters/responders) are here for a third of their life. They are here two straight days, which means six meals and countless showers and everything else. We tried to make it as homey as possible.”

The shifts for the fire fighters/paramedics/responders are on for 48 hours and off for 96. There is now a full training/weight room upstairs with the sleeping quarters, as well as a fully-stocked kitchen.

Although the living units are now more than enough for the fire department responders to live in comfortably, it can also host up to nearly a dozen rescue workers in case there is an emergency event, such as a hurricane.

In essence, the new CIFD facility can act as a command center for FEMA officials and other rescue/clean-up workers.

“It’s a central, and good middle location,” Chief Dickerson said. “It can house personnel during hurricane clean-up and can be the command center to run emergency personnel out here.”

The facility was constructed, not only for the present, but for the future, as well. The three bays are now big enough to house a ladder truck if need be, as well as an EMS unit if Captiva decides to purchase one in the future.

“I am guessing it will be at least a 40-50 year building,” Chief Dickerson said. “Depending on the storms, of course.”

But it will have to be a pretty big and violent storm to blow in the walls of the new fire station, which can withstand up to 170 mile per hour winds.

The training space is also a welcome addition. Firefighters and paramedics can now have hands-on training, with the back stairwell an ideal space for real-life exercises, as well as a fully-stocked training room.

The public will also be safer, with the new Decontamination room, which is easily accessible for walk-in patients.

“We get more walk-ins than other facilities in the area because we have the beach environment right here,” Pawul said. “We usually get injuries such as a hook in the foot, jellyfish and sting ray stings, cuts and things like that. Now they can pop in and we can take care of them. It’s safe for both parties, safety for both sides.”

With the new house smell still prevalent, it’s a welcome facility for the Captiva Island Fire Department and their hard-working and reliable responders.

“We are glad we’re in!” Pawul exclaimed.