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Neighbors push to man vacant firehouse

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Updated: 6/09/2013 9:20 pm
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A vacant firehouse in the rural area of Riverdale is causing concern among some neighbors who say the closest firehouse is too far for emergencies.

Mike MacNamara who has lived in Riverdale for nine years is spearheading a movement to get their local firehouse staffed.

"By turning this into a training center we would have a 100 percent improvement over what we have," said Mike MacNamara

Firehouse 13 sits just off of County Road 13, MacNamara said it's been unmanned since it opened in 2000.

The closest firehouse for this community is located 10 miles away in Hastings.

"The firehouse previously was the social center and the security center for Tocoi, Riverdale and Racy Point and Molasses Junction and all of a sudden it's like someone did heart surgery and ripped out the social security of the neighborhood," said MacNamara.

According to county commissioner Ron Sanchez, firehouse 13 was used by volunteers at one point but because of state requirements many volunteers began backing out. Sanchez said the reason it's not active today is a matter of logistics.

"We wouldn't open a station there again because of the fact that it's only a half circle you need to be in a radius where you can cover five miles out from around the station. You don't need to put yourself in an area where you're already limited, it just doesn't make financial sense," said Ron Sanchez, St. Johns County commissioner.

MacNamara said four years ago he and a group of neighbors presented a proposal to the county to man the firehouse but nothing was done.

"Next thing we're going to do is meet with the new fire chief, Chief Shank who is extremely approachable. and ask him why could we not turn this place into a training center of excellence for the county," said MacNamara.

According to the St. Johns County Fire Rescue their newly implemented auxiliary firefighter program is not meant to staff non-active firehouses but instead to reinforce the department's current resources.

In the meantime, MacNamara said he will continue to take precautions like mowing the brush around his home and checking the batteries in his smoke detector to make sure he does not become a victim of a house fire.
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