Construction of a new $2.2 million fire station in Bluffton is in sight after five years of saving for it.
The Bluffton Township Fire Department won approval Monday from the Beaufort County Council to award a contract for building on a 9.2-acre lot on the corner of Ulmer and Burnt Church roads. The land was purchased in 2010 for $1.2 million.
Deputy Fire Chief John Thompson said it will be four to six months before building begins, while a construction contract is negotiated and permits are issued.
"The station will be built to fit in with surroundings of old town," Thompson said. " ... Hopefully, this will be a prototype, and we can use the blueprints for future buildings."
The new building will replace Station 30 at 2 Bridge St., Thompson said, and the sooner the better.
Station 30 was built in 1978, and Thompson said the columns supporting it have rusted. An engineer's report in 2010 said a severe storm could ruin the building.
"It's costing a lot of money to service it and keep it safe for people," Thompson said. The department spent about $10,000 in 2010 to weld metal plates to the column bases as a temporary reinforcement, he said.
Money to build the new station will come from the district's general fund, according to the request to council. The department decided in 2007 to reduce its spending to save for it, he said, adding that it won't require a tax increase.
"The great thing is that we aren't asking for any more money from the taxpayer," Thompson said.
Follow reporter Anne Christnovich on Twitter at twitter.com/eyeonbeaufortco