MLK First Responder Campus unveiled, officially open to the public

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 5:14 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - A new home for Ocala Fire Rescue and Ocala Police was officially unveiled Thursday.

After breaking ground in December 2019, the new MLK First Responder Campus in west Ocala was officially unveiled.

It’s part of an initiative to bring the community together with fire and police personnel.

Themes of unity are shown throughout the new first responder campus.

“We’ve been trying to bring everybody together for many, many years. Now is the time. Our city management for the last five to 10 years have been working on plans to move us forward. We want to be progressive, not reactive, in every segment, in hiring practices within the City of Ocala, in development, everything,” Ocala City Councilman representing District 2, Ire Bethea said.

The campus will encompass several facilities and amenities, and it’s a big deal for Ocala Fire Rescue.

“We have never had a true headquarters. Our stations have been fragmented. This is the first opportunity where we’ve had to bring in our fire chief to be housed with the firefighters and our logistics support, our training division, our museum, our vehicles, our fuel farm, everything that we have, our specialized equipment is located at this facility,” Ocala Fire Rescue Fire Chief Shane Alexander said.

It was made possible through the county’s Penny Sales Tax initiative, and without it, Alexander said this wouldn’t be possible.

“The one cent sales tax for us has meant three brand new brick and mortar fire stations. Two of those fire stations were over 50 years old. We would still be housed in those stations with less resources and not in the best places, if we didn’t have the one cent sales tax,” Alexander said.

The campus will also be home to an police substation for the Ocala Police Department, a basketball court, and community room.

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