St. Johns County Announces 5-Year Public Safety Plan

At the April 16 St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, a new 5-Year Public Safety Plan was presented which includes four new public safety stations, a new regional fire training center, a new medical examiner facility, and a Sheriff headquarters expansion. Considering previous public safety capital projects since 2020, the County will have a 10-Year Infrastructure Investment Plan estimated to be more than $100 million from 2020 to 2029.

Additionally, vital public safety initiatives including a Firefighter Safety & Wellness program will be expanded providing firefighters additional bunker gear, and new uniforms to meet NFPA safety standards. Additional funding will also be allocated to expand vital mental health and wellness programing for first responders recently launched by Fire Rescue and the Sheriff’s Office. 

The BOCC authorized the County Administrator to move forward with the public safety plan and assemble a County financing team to present a financing package to the Commission under a subsequent agenda item as well as the use of up to $800,000 from Fire/EMS Impact Fee Fund toward the design of the first two fire stations. 

Joy Andrews, County Administrator, emphasized, “”It’s crucial for our community to understand that not a single penny of property tax from our residents will be utilized to cover the construction costs of these new public safety facilities. To ensure fiscal responsibility, an estimated bond of $44.1 – $49.1 million will be serviced solely using impact fees collected from developers and recurring State remitted revenue. Through proactive collaboration with our state legislative delegations and a successful strategy of leveraging state and federal funds, we’ve secured $26.7 million in State appropriations to offset construction costs associated with this plan. Leveraging the county’s impressive credit rating with Moody’s Aaa and S&P AA+ further strengthens our ability to execute this essential public safety infrastructure plan.”

Since 2020 the BOCC’s investment in Fire Rescue capital needs, exceeds $53 million. Beginning in 2025, Facilities Management will oversee a 3-Year, $9 million program, to renovate and upgrade existing fire stations by the end of 2027.

Fire Stations approved as part of the public safety plan include:

  • Fire Station 21 will be located in the Flagler Estates region and is estimated to be complete by the end of 2025.
  • Fire Station 22 will be located in Silverleaf region and is estimated to be complete by the end of 2026 or early 2027.
  • Fire Station 23 will be located in Beachwalk/Twin Creeks region and is estimated to be complete by the end of 2028.
  • Fire Station 24 will be located in Long-Leaf Pine/Roberts Road and is estimated to be complete by end of 2030.

Note: Each new fire station will include a Sheriff’s Office Substation

In addition to the expansion of fire stations, the County is also aggressively pursuing an improved countywide ISO rating through prioritized investments in public safety. This includes a water sourcing initiative which will provide water supply to areas currently without fire hydrants by adding two additional staffed Tanker apparatus at strategic locations in the County.

In response to Commissioner Christian Whitehurst’s question regarding the impact of these stations on the residents, the St. Johns County Geographic Information System division has reported that the newly proposed four fire and sheriff stations, to be established within the next six years, will indeed have a significant impact on the residents. These stations are expected to provide enhanced public safety services to an estimated total of 46,738 homes. Moreover, a portion of these residents may see a potential savings on their property insurance premiums as a result of this strategic investment, with the goal of positively impacting the County’s ISO rating.

Specifically, the breakdown of residential impact is as follows:

  • The new Flagler Estates fire and sheriff station will directly serve 2,366 homes.
  • The Central Regional Fire and Sheriff Station will improve services to 12,371 homes in the Silverleaf region.
  • The newly proposed Beachwalk station will improve services to 15,435 homes.
  • Lastly, the Rivertown station is projected to improve services for 16,565 homes.

Andrews said, “The goal is to provide opportunities for insurance cost savings for residential and commercial property owners based on their insurance carrier’s use of ISO ratings to set coverage rates.”

Other details of the 5-year plan include:

  • The Regional Training Facility. It will include a unified command center, classrooms, field training infrastructure and a bay for various public safety equipment and apparatus.
  • The Tri-County Medical Examiner Facility. It will serve the communities of Flagler, Putnam, and St. Johns, will help relocate the current facility out of a flood zone and the operating costs will be shared with Flagler and Putnam counties. It is estimated to be completed by the end of 2027.
  • The expansion of the Sheriff’s Headquarters. It will relocate the current headquarters from a flood zone and active railroad, as well as address current and future growth needs. The new location will be at SR16 and I95, and is estimated to be completed by the end of 2027.