Fire station construction to resume within 2 weeks

 

Work on the new Fire Station 4 is expected to begin in early April, months after construction halted due to cost concerns. The city council voted to award contracts for some of the construction work Tuesday night.

Work on the new Fire Station 4 is expected to begin in early April, months after construction halted due to cost concerns. The city council voted to award contracts for some of the construction work Tuesday night. Photo by: Dispatch file photo

 

Martin Andrews

Martin Andrews

 

Jabari Edwards

Jabari Edwards

 

 

Amanda Lien

 

 

After months of inactivity, construction will resume on the new Fire Station 4 on Airline Road with the goal of completing the station by the end of the year. 

 

At Tuesday night's city council meeting at the Municipal Complex, City Engineer Kevin Stafford presented bids for heating, air conditioning and electric work for the future fire station. Stafford's employer, Neel-Schaffer Engineering, accepted bids for the project on behalf of Columbus Fire and Rescue. 

 

The council voted unanimously to award both contracts to Columbus-based companies: $99,705 for heating and air conditioning installation to Advanced Air Systems and $162,500 for electrical work to Malone Electric. 

 

"There is about two weeks of bonds and paperwork to be done before the work begins," CFR Chief Martin Andrews said in an email to The Dispatch. "Once all that is in place, work will start." 

 

A $700,000 capital improvement loan from the Mississippi Development Authority will fund construction, Andrews said. Once contracts for the work have been signed and submitted to the MDA, the city will receive the money needed to begin work. Andrews said he doesn't expect the cost of construction to exceed the amount of the loan, but any additional costs will come out of the city's $500,000 insurance rebate. 

 

About $400,000 worth of work has been completed on the station so far. Firefighters and construction crews from J5, the city's project management firm, completed the building's basic structure in early 2018, the last time any progress was made on the structure. Andrews said CFR won't be bidding out for any more construction work at the moment. 

 

"We have done all the framing and carpentry work in-house with our firefighters," he said. "We will be working to see what additional work we can do in-house as we go." 

 

 

 

Construction delays 

 

Construction on Fire Station 4 began in mid-2016, but work on the station came to a halt late last year after city officials learned the plans for the building's interior -- including electrical, heating and air conditioning work -- were going to be more expensive than anticipated When the city bid out the electrical and HVAC work last year, they were told they could get some of that work done for much cheaper, prompting Andrews to hold off on construction while local businessman and engineer Ralph McLain, who owns Teletec and has worked on small projects for the city before, redrew the interior designs at no cost to the city. 

 

"We tried to compromise on those bids and get them down," Andrews told city councilmen at Tuesday's meeting. "That's why it took so long to get them in." 

 

The new fire station is in Ward 2, and Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens said he hopes it will be complete by the end of the year. 

 

"Looks like things are going to be rolling," he told The Dispatch. "They got the funds so we're good there. (CFR) can keep its accreditation and we can get that new fire truck in." 

 

The city's current Fire Station 4, located at the intersection of Airline and South McCrary Roads about a mile east of the new building, was built in 1960, making it the oldest of the city's stations. At 3,200 square feet, it's less than a third the size of the new building and is too small to fit the custom-ordered $500,000 fire truck the city plans to purchase when construction on the new fire station is complete.  

 

The new station will house not only that truck, but one of CFR's medical vehicles and the administrative team, which is currently spread between three different buildings in the city. Andrews also hopes it can help improve the department's rating from the Mississippi State Rating Bureau, which rates fire departments on scales from 1-10, with 10 being the worst.  

 

CFR is currently rated as a Class 3, placing it among the five highest rated fire departments in the state. When the new station is completed it will improve firefighters' response times to calls just off Highway 69. Andrews hopes when the Rating Bureau comes back in five years, the improved response time will help push the city to a Class 2.  

 

The better a fire department's rating, the lower home insurance costs are for residents protected by that department. 

 

 

 

Tornado debris removal 

 

In other news, city council voted unanimously to award a $1,994,040 bid for tornado debris removal to Looks Great Services, a utility clearing and maintenance company based out of Columbia. 

 

City contractor Jabari Edwards told city councilmen that the bid was "not the lowest bid" he had received, but it was the lowest bid that included all the information requested. 

 

"There were two (bids) that didn't include a work plan for the city or other information we requested," Edwards said. "(Looks Great Services) did, and we received a letter of recommendation from (Lowndes County) that spoke highly of them." 

 

Looks Good Services can't begin work until a national emergency declaration is signed by the president, Edwards said. The deadline to do so is today.

 

 

 

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