SWFD welcomes new maintenance building, part of a $6.8 million project

Nathan Cobb
Walton Sun

SANTA ROSA BEACH — Dozens gathered in South Walton on Monday to mark the end of a roughly $6.8 million project to strengthen the South Walton Fire District.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house spotlighted the new Fleet Maintenance and Logistics Building, which sits behind the district’s headquarters off 911 N. County Highway 393.

According to Fire Chief Ryan Crawford, the building provides much-needed space and is an amenity for future generations of firefighters.

“This project has evolved through careful planning, permitting, engineering and final construction for well over a decade,” he told those in attendance. “Maintaining these vehicles in peak operational condition is critical to our success and our mission of providing prompt, competent response to our community’s emergency service needs.”

In addition to housing an enormous garage, the two-story, 22,200-square-foot building also boasts offices, classrooms and a decontamination area. It sits next to the recently opened training tower.

Crawford said both developments were funded by impact fees and are part of the “most significant capital improvement project (the) fire district has ever undertaken.”

For Maurice Gilbert, chairman of the South Walton Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners, the building filled a void in the district’s operations.

With the addition, SWFD gained an area to service its vehicles from within, rather than relying on satellite fire locations or third-party vendors, he added.

“I think that for the South Walton Fire District and the community of South Walton, you’re looking at a facility that will serve this community for several generations,” Gilbert said.