Seminole Co. firehouse upgrades to add separate male, female areas

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ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. —

A firehouse in Altamonte Springs which was built in the 1970s is now getting major improvements to fit the times.

The upgrades will help the men and women who work there.

Antoinette Vickers, a Seminole County firefighter, is used to being in close quarters with her male counterparts, but she said a little more privacy wouldn't be a bad thing.

"Being the only woman in this house right with the men that I work with, it is kind of challenging to have my own privacy," Vickers said.

For decades, the teams at Fire Station 11 have shared the same locker room and shower area.

The building was built in 1978 when there were few, if any, female firefighters.

Now, there are almost 20 women on the force. It's clear, what worked back then isn't working now.

Lt. Paula Thompson, Seminole County Fire public information officer, said they have to make it more diverse.

"There are a lot more women in the fire service and every time we go through a renovation, we have to look at all of that," Thompson said.

The county's planning a $116,000 renovation that will add separate female and male areas and take care of a few other issues.

The locker room is the main hallway to most of the second story. If someone wants a little more privacy, they have to close the door and lock everyone out -- not just from the locker room, but from everything back there, which includes the kitchen and dining room.

New plumbing will also put an end to the water damage and sewage issues plaguing the building.

For most here, that's minor compared with the other improvements.

"I'm looking forward to the renovations to give them their privacy, and get a bit of my own privacy also," Vickers said.

County commissioners still have to approve the cost of the renovations next week.

Fire officials said the construction work will have no effect on services.