JACKSONVILLE — Jacksonville first responders and communication personnel have a new place to call home.
The city’s police department and its dispatch staff have finished moving into the Jacksonville Public Safety Complex, a 29,000-square-foot facility at 911 S. Bolton St., and the fire department will follow in the next few weeks.
Jacksonville City Council in September 2019 approved a contract with Quorum Architects for the design of the complex, which set the project in motion. Initially projected to complete this past summer, several factors pushed back the facility’s finish to this month.
The complex will also house the emergency operations center and be Jacksonville’s new “Central Station.”
Police Capt. Steven Markasky said the complex is a much-needed facilities upgrade.
“Jacksonville fire and police stations were outdated and were in need of major overhauls ASAP. Also, now that we are both in the same building, we will be able to work even closer with our FD,” he said. “We have already cross-trained with our tactical medics.”
Fire Marshal Jeremy Pate said the combined facility will be beneficial for the departments and for residents.
“It provides the adequate space needed for our fire-based EMS services that we provide the citizens of Jacksonville,” Pate said. “We outgrew the prior Central Station on Main Street some time ago. The ladder truck will be able to be housed in a more central location for the city. We have adequate storage for fire and EMS equipment. We also have more room to perform fire and EMS training as well as possibly hosting some training in the future.”
The complex comes with separate living quarters for firefighters, which Pate said follows standards that came about during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s the new practice in the fire service for firefighters to have separate living quarters while at work for 24 hours and even more given the recent health environment,” he said. ”This complex allows for the accommodation of the separate living quarters and for future growth of the fire department.”
Pate said the complex being brand new and having accommodations like a self-contained breathing apparatus filling station, bunker-gear washer and lockers and hose-drying racks will help the department.
The new complex has other new equipment and accommodations with a hometown feel.
“The complex has a new gym that allows for weightlifting, running, circuit training and meets all the needs of any private gym establishment. The kitchen is quite a bit bigger than the existing one, with state-of-the-art equipment. The large dining room table was custom built by Bud Farmer, who is a local Jacksonville woodworker,” he said.
“Everything is more stable. Equipment is brand new. The building is brand new. It is all new life for all first responders, and we are very thankful,” he said. “This helps give us the tools to better serve our community.”
The agencies hope in the future to be able to use the facility to host regional training classes for police, fire and other emergency responders.