New Kent supervisors, fire chief set aside funds for Eltham fire station remodel

aluck@tidewaterreview.com

New Kent supervisors and New Kent Fire-Rescue fire chief Rick Opett want to address growing concerns about the conditions of Fire Station 3 in Eltham.

Opett brought up his concerns about the deterioration of the fire station to the board at their Wednesday morning work session.

“The building needs a new makeover and essentials for it to withstand more years of service,” Opett said. “The current state of the station where you look from the road is that it does not represent the county very well.”

Opett said the station does not have proper insulation in the garage, which makes the winter months difficult for fire staff.

“There’s also one big propane tank for heating and I think it is not efficient cost wise,” Opett said.

The roof on the building is 20 years old and needs to be addressed, but the replacement cost is above what is budgeted, according to Opett.

“It would cost $109,000 for a new metal roof so we are looking at some minor replacement and upgrades for the roof,” Opett said.

The funding for the station remodel would come from the sale of retired fire apparatus; it would be expected to sell at $175,000.

“I’ve budgeted for that and to stay in a $200-250,000 range for the remodel with no new or additional monetary requests,” Opett said.

Other upgrades include raising building headers, siding, LED lighting, plumbing, heating, insulation and new garage doors, according to Opett.

Supervisors unanimously approved creating a fund for the remodel.

Opett also discussed a grant opportunity from FEMA, called the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency (SAFER) grant.

The grant provides funding for staffing for three fiscal years. It would provide funding for 12 new firefighters at the Providence Forge and Quinton stations, as well as four on-call fire and EMS medics at stations one, two, three and five — currently being built — according to Opett.

“I’m going over my budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 and I was going to budget for 12 new firefighters for our new station five,” Opett said. “So the issue is I either have to budget for station five staff or apply for the grant, I unfortunately can’t do both.”

With the grant, the state would pay $576,000 and the county would pay $144,000 for staffing for 2020 and 2021, the state would pay $252,000 and the county would pay $468,000 in 2022 and the county would pay $720,000 in 2023.

The supervisors discussed the grant providing staff for more than just station five and that they will consider station five staffing costs in their 2019-2020 budget.

Supervisors approved the motion to apply for the grant, 3-2, with Patricia Paige and Thomas Evelyn voting against the motion, in favor of budgeting for fire station five staff instead.

Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, aluck@tidewaterreview.com or @ashleyrluck on Twitter

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