ACFR breaks ground on new station

Dignitaries from Alachua County throw out the first shovel of dirt at Friday's Alachua County Fire Rescue Station 80 groundbreaking ceremony.
Dignitaries from Alachua County throw out the first shovel of dirt at Friday's Alachua County Fire Rescue Station 80 groundbreaking ceremony.
Photo by C.J. Gish

Alachua County Fire Rescue (ACFR) will be adding a new station to its countywide coverage area following a Friday groundbreaking ceremony.

Alachua County dignitaries gathered for the event held at 10180 SW 24th Ave. to officially start construction on ACFR Station 80.

The new building – located just west of The Rock School – will be the home for the district chief and will include an advanced life support engine and a future advanced life support ambulance.

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Photo by C.J. Gish Alachua County Commissioner Mary Alford spoke at Friday’s ACFR Station 80 groundbreaking ceremony.

“The actions of the Alachua County Commission that have led to this moment are another clear demonstration that public safety is our number one priority,” said Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman.

Alachua County Commissioner Mary Alford spoke next and reflected on the timeframe leading up to Friday’s groundbreaking event.  

“This has been discussed for 20 years and we’re so honored to be the commission that has brought it into fruition,” she said.

Station 80 will be 11,000 square feet and a total cost of $6.7 million, Alford said, adding that the specific location on SW 24th Avenue was recommended in 2004 with the current parcel identified in 2018 and purchased in February 2019.

Having a fire station nearby is a good neighbor to have, Alford said.  

“My mother fell a few years ago and I lived less than a mile away and, before I could get there, her notification system had automatically alerted the fire department and they were loading her into the ambulance,” Alford said. “So, there might be some noise, especially during construction and some more traffic during construction, but once this fire station is up and running, you can expect to have a really good neighbor.”

ACFR Fire Chief Harold Theus thanked the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners for their support.

“Building fire stations, as (Alford) has said, costs millions of dollars, it’s not a cheap thing,” he said.

Photo by C.J. Gish A picture of what the future Alachua County Fire Rescue Station 80 will look like.

Theus extended thanks to retired ACFR Fire Chief Bill Northcutt who started the process to find the property for Station 80.

“That was a painstaking approach in an already mostly-developed area,” Theus said, adding that Northcutt worked with developers and real estate agents between 2014-16.

Theus said it is exciting to finally be breaking ground for the new station.

“Right now, we have a site that’s just dirt, but in 10 or 11 months we’ll have a site with a fully-constructed fire station,” he said. “We’re going to plant 75 trees along this property site, the back area will be left as a buffer just like it is today, so our plan is to be a good neighbor. We’ve really worked hard through our public meetings with the residents of Cambridge Forest listening to their concerns.”

Open house events will be scheduled for the community to tour the station once it is completed.

Photo by C.J. Gish Alachua County Fire Chief Harold Theus spoke Friday at the ACFR Station 80 groundbreaking ceremony.

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It would sure be nice if they explained WHY building fire stations costs millions of dollars, instead of just repeating that all the time.

The folks in the picture throwing out the “first” shovel full of dirt seem to misunderstand the concept. They’re collectively tossing many shovels full of sand that was dropped off at the site. Sand isn’t dirt, and there wasn’t any ‘groundbreaking’ done in that photo op.
Things are getting sadder and sadder.

Jack O.

Does the cost of construction include the price of the land?
I’m not badgering the author – I am genuinely interested in these details.