Contract in hand to build replacement for Bluffton fire station

The Bluffton Township Fire District has signed a $2.2 million contract for a new fire station near Old Town.

The 7,200-square-foot station is planned for the intersection of Ulmer and Burnt Church roads. It would replace Station 30, a 34-year-old firehouse a few hundred feet away at 2 Bridge St. that has documented structural problems.

With the contract in hand, Court Atkins Architects and Fraser Construction can firm up the plans and apply for building permits, said Deputy Fire Chief John Thompson.

"It was the last hurdle we had to clear as far as the negotiating side of things," he said of the contract, which was reviewed by county officials before it was signed.

Heather Moulton, a Fraser Construction project manager, said a date has not been set for the station's construction. But if the local permitting process goes smoothly, she predicted work could begin in September and last about six months.

The fire district has been planning to replace the station since 2007 and reduced its spending during the past five years to save for its construction. In 2010, an engineering study determined the current firehouse had rusted support columns and could collapse in a major storm.

The replacement station would be about a third larger than the current one and have a workout room, updated communications equipment and "individualized" bunk rooms, Thompson said. It would also be built to withstand hurricanes.

Station 30 houses an engine company with four firefighters and a two-member EMS squad, and it is one of six stations operated by the fire district.

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Bluffton fire department to build new station, March 12, 2012