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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Alachua County to get first LEED-certified,'green' fire station

Alachua County could get its first nationally certified "green" fire station by about February 2009.

Officials broke ground Tuesday on the new environmentally friendly station, which will replace Jonesville Fire Station #17 on Northwest 143rd Street.

The station is being built on the north end of the Jonesville Park Complex soccer field.

The 6,000-square foot building will be certified by the United States Green Building Council for meeting its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines, said Charlie Jackson, county facilities manager.

The station is expected to cost $2.9 million. Jackson said construction of a LEED building costs about the same as an ordinary building and saves tax payers money in the long run by lowering utility bills.

"Building green simply makes sense," he said.

The building will have energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems,he said. Native landscaping and devices like water-free urinals will cut back on the facility's water use.

The location is accessible by alternative transportation like buses and bicycles, he said.

The station will also have a garage to house four emergency vehicles that currently get parked outside. Alachua County Fire Chief Will May said indoor parking would make the vehicles last longer.

Even construction materials will be recycled, Jackson said, and builders will use carpeting and paint that give off low fume emissions.

Meeting the LEED guidelines will earn the station a plaque on the wall when it's finished, Jackson said.

May said the new station will be necessary as the population served by Jonesville Fire Station No. 17 increases.

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The original Jonesville station was established in October 1986 in a mobile home, May said.

Though it was replaced in the mid-90s by a pre-fabricated building, firefighters still needed to evacuate during hurricane and tornado warnings.

That will not be an issue with the new building, May said.

"It will be that emergency station that's still standing no matter what happens," he said.

The station will also have more living and work space for the five firefighters on the clock at any given time, May said.

The station will be the county's second green-certified building. The first was the Alachua County Criminal Courthouse, which was built in 2003 in downtown Gainesville.

Jackson said he would like to pass legislation to require all county buildings - new and old - to fit government green guidelines.

"We're thinking green, we're building green and we will maintain green," he said.

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