County: new equipment enhances Osceola public safety

Osceola Fire Rescue displayed the time-honored traditions of the fire service with a “push-back” ceremony for a new squad truck at station 73.

A ceremony for a new squad truck that will enhance public safety in district 1 was held at station 73 in Reunion on Monday morning.

The new apparatus represents a $500,000 million investment in public safety. The 2019 Pierce Velocity Chassis features a 1500-gallon-per-minute pump, 1000-gallon water tank, and has been specially designed to carry the full complement of firefighting equipment as well as the equipment necessary for technical rescue incidents. It will also mean lower maintenance costs, as it replaces an older model with 14 years of service and 300,000 miles on the odometer, according to county officials.

“Developing a first-rate fire service is important to the health and safety of our residents. This squad is another vital tool for our first responders and another sign of the County’s commitment to providing the best training, best facilities and best equipment,” said Peggy Choudhry, the district 1 county commissioner – home for the new truck. “I think the residents and visitors in Reunion and district 1 can be proud that we are adding another resource to the community on the heels of this new station – and a commitment for more staff here as approved in this year’s budget. It is part of my pledge to you since taking office to make sure that our first-responders are ready for any emergency.”

Osceola Fire Rescue displayed the time-honored traditions of the fire service with a “push-back” ceremony. The first part of the ceremony involved washing, then drying off the new equipment. Then firefighters pushed the new vehicle into the firehouse, a tradition that dates back to the 19th century when horses could not properly back into the station with the wagon attached.

“The ceremony of transferring from old to new allows us as a department to honor our history and while embracing change and progress as we prepare for new challenges,” said Chief Larry Collier. “Now with this squad, the men and women of Osceola County Fire Rescue have valuable tools readily available to serve the community in a timely and efficient manner.”

Continued priority: investing in public safety

Osceola County’s Fire Rescue division continues to invest in life-saving training and equipment. In recent years in addition to new bunker gear, vital-sign telemetry monitors, self-contained breathing apparatus and Jaws of Life, Osceola County has made nearly $30 million in investments in public safety, including a training center, new stations and future sites, equipment, such as engines, rescues and other trucks.

In March, the county dedicated the new fire training facility. The Pershing Street site features 11 acres to safely train Osceola County’s fire-fighting force in accordance with requirements that establish insurance rates for residents and businesses.

The campus allows for a variety of scenarios including: exercises in a 44-foot-tall tower, hose and hydrant evolutions, ground ladder work, and aerial operations. In addition, low frequency, high-risk evolutions such as rope rescue and confined space operations will be practiced along with live fire training, all in accordance with National Fire Protection Association standards.

In 2018, the county opened replacement fire stations near Reunion and in Buenaventura Lakes. Station 73 was the third to be built with a cost-saving plan that is designed to withstand severe weather events with up to 150 mph wind speeds. Station 62 in BVL is the second using the design, which will also lead to quicker and more efficient response by firefighters. Station 62 features homage to the deserving heroes of the 65th Infantry Regiment – or as many people know them, the Borinqueneers. Station 64 was first station to use the design and opened in 2016.

The county acquired property in Campbell City last year to serve as a future site of various county government operations, including a new office for the Osceola County Tax Collector’s Office  and a fire station to replace the current Station 43. This year the county moved forward with land purchases for stations on the West side of the County and at the Austin-Tindall Sports Complex.

And in May, Osceola County put into service $1.7 million of new equipment in Celebration, with a new engine and a new tower truck.

The Osceola Board of County Commissioners approved a fiscal year 2020 budget, which increases public safety funding, and adds 18 new firefighter positions.