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Fla. fire station to get makeover

After more than 40 years, North Miami Beach’s Fire Rescue Station 31 will soon get some needed work. The fire poles, however, are here to stay.

By Carli Teproff
The Miami Herald

MIAMI, Fla. — Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Station 31 will soon get a face-lift, but at least one element will remain the same — fire poles.

The 42-year-old station is the only two-story fire station in Miami-Dade County’s repertoire, and is the only one left with two metal fire poles used for easy access between the second and first floors.

So when Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Facilities and Construction Division proposed renovations, everyone decided that the poles would stay.

“It’s tradition,” said Cpt. Shanti Hall. “It’s what makes this station unique.”

Hall said all of the county’s newer stations are single story, which is safer and easier for firefighters to leave in cases of emergency. She said poles aren’t really used as much anymore because they can be dangerous.

The station, built in 1965, has not seen much work over the years and the aging building is in need of updates, according to Facilities and Construction Manager Gianni Lehmann.

Renovations will be done in phases, so as not to disturb the firefighters or service to the area, Michael Steffins, the architect for the project, told North Miami Beach Council members at a meeting Oct. 16. Construction for the project should begin by November 2008 and be completed by the early part of 2010, Lehmann said.

On Tuesday, firefighter Jonathan Rios stood by the stove in a wood-paneled kitchen, cooking dinner for everyone on his shift.

The kitchen, living area with recliners and television, and a cramped sleeping room that is partitioned with curtains are all upstairs. The fire and rescue trucks and equipment are stored downstairs.

There is one pole located in the living room area and the other is where the firefighters sleep.

Rios said he is happy the poles are staying.

“There is nothing else like it in South Florida,” he said.

The expansion project will add about 1,100 square feet to the north side for more living space and storage for the station, which houses about seven firefighters. The renovations, which will cost about $1 million, will also help modernize the current facilities, Lehmann said.

The project will also include the addition of a lobby area, something that the North Miami Beach council members were happy about. Currently people have to enter through the garage door.

“I am happy to see [Miami-Dade Fire] renovating the facility,” council member Jay Chernoff said. “It’s been in need of that for a long, long time.”

Copyright 2007 The Miami Herald
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Business News