Opening of new fire station in Collier County delayed due to COVID-19

Published: August 18, 2021 5:28 PM EDT
Updated: August 19, 2021 11:42 AM EDT

A fire station planned for a fast-growing neighborhood east of Lely has been put on hold due to COVID.

The delay happened because a number of firefighters became infected and there are not enough to staff a new station.

The new fire station, off of Collier Boulevard, is a collaboration between the Greater Naples Fire Rescue District and Collier County EMS.

The new facility is designed to serve homes off Rattlesnake Hammock Road, and in north Lely and Verona Walk.

“They’re building so many houses,” said Edward Hunt, who lives in Veronak Walk. “There’s going to be a lot more people and everybody’s people in my age bracket they kind of need more emergency services than other areas I think.”

Diane Stroteeck, who lives in Cedar Hammock, agrees.

“There are housing developments, multiple-unit housing everywhere,” Stroteeck said. “Everywhere you turn around there’s a complex going up.”

The goal is to have the fire station up and running sometime in October. Greater Naples Fire Chief Nolan Sapp said he’s waiting on funds to hire more fighters to staff the new station.

“COVID hit,” Sapp said. “So COVID became a component in this too. On some days I’ve had as many as 10 people out of 56 out on COVID and then people out on various other types of leave as well that day.”

Sapp said it’s been a struggle to keep his squad fully staffed.

“It’s just not fiscally responsible to staff that station every day with overtime,” Sapp said. 

But he promises they won’t put people at risk.

“The fire trucks are still coming as they have for years just not in that particular area as quickly but it’s just around the corner,” Sapp said.