Arrival of new fire station could save money for homeowners on Jacksonville's Southside

Right now, firefighter responses times in parts of the Southside near Baymeadows Road and State Road 9B average 18 minutes. That number could be cut in half once a new fire station is added.

But a new station won’t just improve safety, it could also save people money as well.

The savings would come in people’s home insurance premiums. Right now, some insurance ratings don't recognize a fire station as being in the area, although it's the busiest part of the city for emergency calls.

“Literally, the alarm goes off every 15 minutes,” Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Chief Kurtis Wilson said.

Wilson is talking about Fire Station 28. It’s the busiest in the city, serving areas on the Southside near Hogan Road and over to Baymeadows Road and State Road 9B.

“That fire station averages 14,000 responses a year,” Wilson said.

To help, a temporary, and eventually a permanent, fire station will be built in the Baymeadows and 9B area, potentially cutting the current response time of 18 minutes in half and also saving homeowners money.

Wilson said right now, those living in the Hampton Park area have the worst insurance score possible.

“Homeowners have an ISO score of 10. So when they apply for their homeowners insurance, basically it recognizes them as having no fire department, no fire service, although we all know we’re coming,” Wilson said.

Once the new station is added, Wilson said the Insurance Services Office score will drop from a 10 to a 1, something that could mean an average of $1,600 in annual insurance premium savings.

Neighbor and parent Greg Hale said, “For homeowners, any time you get the opportunity to get some savings, … that’s a big bonus right there.”

There is savings and also comfort for families, knowing firefighters will soon be a little closer when the alarm sounds.

“A lot of comfort ... I coach football ,as you know … knowing that a fire station will be that much closer adds that much comfort,” Hale said.

Funding for the temporary station takes effect Oct. 1. It could then be at least four months until the temporary station is operational. Once land is found for the permanent station and everything is squared away with regard to contracts and construction, it could take 15 months for the station to be built and fully operational.

It's a big deal for this area but with growth not expected to slow down, Action News Jax is told over the next five to 15 years, the city will likely need to build at least three more fire stations in this area to try and keep up with the growth and demand.

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