New fire station planned in Madison CountyBy MEGAN PHILLIPS,
The southwest fire district in Madison County will soon be getting a new fire station, hopefully by the end of this year.
Russ Blount of Dale Partners Architects, architect for the new building, recently presented the bids to the Madison County Board of Supervisors during a board meeting.
“We opened bids on December 19 with eight bidders, and the bids range from $1.6 million to $1.93 million,” Blount said. “(I’m) recommending approval of Richard Womack Construction for the base bid amount of $1,626,000.”
Blount said Womack Construction is the company also contracted for a new Gluckstadt fire station located on Yandell Road.
The board approved moving forward with the new Gluckstadt station in May of last year, in the amount of $1.53 million, a cost approximately 30 percent higher than originally expected.
“We have a reputation with (Womack Construction),” Blount said. “We think ($1.6 million) is a fair and reasonable price for the scope of the project.”
The board unanimously approved Blount’s recommendation.
The Southwest Madison fire district already has a fire station located at the corner of North Livingston and Lake Cavalier roads.
“We plan on adding this station and using both,” Southwest Madison Fire District Manager Ben Hawthorne said. “The second station will be on the corner of Coker and Lake Cavalier roads.”
The reason for the station, according to Hawthorne, is that there is more development in that area than before.
“With the annexations of Ridgeland and Madison, the original station got to where it wasn’t centrally located. It’s almost to the Ridgeland city limits now. We need one centrally located that will house equipment and fire apparatus and be able to reach our district better with better response times.”
The current station is not equipped to house firefighters or provide living quarters for volunteer fighters working 24-hour shifts. However, once the new station is complete, both will be manned and ready to combat any fires in the area.
The whole district works on a volunteer basis, with 15 active members in the district.
“Our goal is to have some part-time guys that we pay to be there during the day and week while our guys are working. Most of (our current volunteers) have full-time jobs. We need coverage when volunteers are out working during peak times.”
Hawthorne said this will help the new station have better coverage during the average 9-5 workday.
Before getting paid firefighters on board, the district also wants to begin rotating volunteer firefighters through night shifts so that the area is better covered at night.
“We’re doing a push to try to actively recruit volunteers in preparation for the new station. We’re working on a campaign to ask people to come volunteer to make our numbers grow and improve response times.”
Hawthorne said anybody willing to volunteer is welcome.
“We’ll take as many as we can get. It’s for anybody that’s interested. They don’t have to be in tip-top shape or know anything about fires — there are lots of jobs they can do.”
The estimated completion date for the new station is November or December of this year.
“With the board of supervisors approving the bid, it should be anytime that they start construction,” Hawthorne said.
For anyone interested in volunteering, Hawthorne said the southwest fire district volunteer members meet every second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m., 141 Lake Cavalier Road.
“If they have any questions about volunteering, they can call me (601-529-7827).”