Fire Chief: Boom in Estero growth begs for new fire station


ESTERO, Fla. – Estero is in need of new fire station after crews responded to a record number of calls last month, Estero Fire Chief Scott Vanderbrook said Tuesday.

It was the most activity Estero Fire Rescue had ever experienced in the 50 years it has existed.

A new fire station would cut down on response times and prepare the area for the influx of development, Vanderbrook said. He said his department is already being affected.

“As growth continues out east, our response times get longer both with the road and congestion and with the amount of development that’s been going on,” he said.

Part of the development in the area may be due in part to the late January opening of a Hertz headquarters off U.S. 41. But future development points to unpopular proposals for two new residential high-rise projects off Coconut Road in nearby Bonita Springs.

Vanderbrook is proposing a new fire station on the eastern end of Corkscrew Road, which is not far from Coconut Road. He said a new station would better serve families in new or developing residential areas.

Just last week Estero village council members backed Bonita Springs residents who were embittered by development plans. Jim Wilson of the Estero council said the village is encountering its own development, which should be paired with increased services.

“There are four major developments: Corkscrew Shores, Corkscrew Farms, Wild Blue and then Bella Terra, which is already existing. There are over 6,000 proposed or existing homes in there, so I think they deserve rapid response times as those of us that are close to the existing stations get,” Wilson said.

With a boom in growth, Vanderbrook said he wants to ensure community residents get the help they need quickly in the case of emergencies like cardiac arrest.

But for now, the land for the proposed fire station is locked in a legal battle between an Estero community group and Lee County. The land has been designated as The Place at Corkscrew, formerly known as the Corkscrew Farms development.

Vanderbrook fears that without a new fire station, a preventable issue could arise.

“You know, we’re talking about 22-story high rises. We’re talking about high density commercial on the 41 corridor,” Vanderbrook said. “Cardiac arrest or structure fire both of those things are life threatening things and we want to get there as quick as possible.”

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