New Cocoa Beach fire station ahead of schedule

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – The Cocoa Beach Fire Department has been using the same facility for more than 30 years, but with construction for a new station underway, firefighters will soon have a $3.7 million new, state-of-the-art building.

The city broke ground on the new fire station in May and it is quickly taking shape. It's slated to be fully operational by February 2015, but officials said they're optimistic it'll be ready sooner.

Every day, Deputy Chief Mark Austin with the Cocoa Beach Fire Department glances across the street and admires the progress of the new, 18,000-square-foot fire station.

"Over a four-day period, we really saw a big difference as to what this station's going to look like," Austin said. "So we're excited. We can't wait to get in there."

For more than a decade, the city contemplated replacing its existing single-story fire station, which has been around since the 1950s. The current facility is plagued with mold and structural damage and Austin says it can't fit all of their equipment.

"The existing station has served its purpose. It's done a good job as it could, but we've outgrown it. We're bursting at the seams at this point, and we're really looking forward to making the transition over there," Austin said.

The new three-story facility will have more offices, living quarters and storage space. There are also plans for an emergency operations center to be built on the upper floors to coordinate rescue efforts during crises such as hurricanes.

The garage area will increase from three bays to five, fitting all of their vehicles under one roof.

"Our guys take a lot of pride in whatever the conditions are that they're in, but they are thrilled and excited about the first day we walk into that station," Austin said.

The existing station isn't up to hurricane standards. The new one will be and will even have a safe room on the first floor.

Once the new building is ready, the existing station will be demolished. Officials said they don't have immediate plans for the land.

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