Hilton Head Island has a new fire station.
Firefighters moved into the $2.3 million station last month. The building replaces Fire Station No. 1 at 70 Cordillo Parkway, which was built in the late 1970s by the now-defunct Sea Pines Forest Beach Fire Department.
The Town of Hilton Head Island Fire & Rescue Division took over the station in 1993 when it was formed by consolidating the Sea Pines Forest Beach Fire Department, the Hilton Head Fire District and the Hilton Head Island Rescue Squad.
The old station -- which had a second story added in the late 1980s -- was a "maintenance nightmare," said town facilities manager Julian Walls.
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"It was dilapidated and not structurally sound. It turned into a money pit."
The building's roof sagged and sprung chronic leaks. The electrical system was outdated and ill-suited for the division's use of today's technology.
"We had a power failure once and found they no longer manufactured the components we needed," said Brad Tadlock, deputy fire chief of operations.
The new station, which took about a year to build and is at the same site as the old one, should serve the town for at least 30 years, Walls said. And unlike the old station, it can withstand Category 3 hurricane winds and is built at a higher elevation to reduce the chance of flooding.
"If we get a Category 3 storm surge, we'll evacuate, but the building will still be here when we return, there'll just be some water on the floor," said Ed Boring, deputy chief of support services.
The larger fire station also provides more room for apparatus, such as the division's urban search-and-rescue vehicle. That, combined with knocking the building down to one story, should help improve response, Tadlock said.
"Being on one level means we can get the wheels rolling faster, which factors into our overall goal of reducing response times," he said.
The fire station, next to Shipyard Plantation's Pope Avenue gate, averages about 1,800 fire and emergency medical calls a year and is the island's busiest during the summer, Boring said.
Crews will begin demolishing the old Smokehouse restaurant near Coligny Circle later this month, Walls said. The restaurant was turned into a temporary substation while the new station was built.
Next up is replacement of Fire Station No. 6 at 16 Queens Folly Road inside Palmetto Dunes.
Walls said the town plans to pursue the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification for the station. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system designed to promote energy savings, water efficiency, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and waste production.
Other town fire stations have LEED elements in their designs but do not qualify for the certification. For example, the new station was built and furnished with recycled materials, covered with less-toxic paint and uses energy saving appliances, lighting, heating and cooling. Outside, rain gardens collect and filter stormwater runoff.
Walls said staff is pursuing the certification to fit with the town's goal of environmental stewardship.
Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.