ROCKINGHAM — After two-and-a-half years of planning, the Northside Fire Department took its first step in building its new fire station Monday as the grounds were blessed by Chaplain Bob Carpenter.
Plans for a new station have been in the works since January 2014, with the Richmond County Board of Commissioners approving a $1,089,131 bid from Oakboro-based Carpenter Construction Company Inc. at its monthly meeting in April.
Jim Chavis, chairman of the department’s board of directors, said last February that the current main station was more than 35 years old, and there was a sinkhole in one of the vehicle bays, as well as in the parking lot, which also needs repairs.
He also said the department needs “more adequate storage space for equipment,” adding that lights and mirrors have been knocked off of trucks while being backed into the bays.
Joey Carpenter with Carpenter Construction said Monday was the first day of clearing off the property — which is just shy of five acres on the corner of Northside Drive and McNeil Road — of trees and debris.
He added that by September, “you’ll see red iron going up” with the 8,000-square-foot building anticipated to be finished by early spring of next year.
Carpenter Construction has done other projects in Richmond County, including Pattan’s Downtown Grille and a free standing building at L.J. Bell Elementary School.
Edward Causey, Northside Fire Chief for the last four years, said they had simply outgrown the current station and with the department covering the largest fire district in the county at forty square miles in all directions, the move needed to be made.
County commissioners approved drawings for the new building in October of 2014.
Board member Gene Shaw said the new station would feature three drive-through bays with wider and taller doors and training room. Carpenter added there would additional office space, a community room and restrooms.
Chavis also said that proposed sleeping quarters would be able to provide a roof for emergency services personnel during natural disasters. Similar quarters at station No. 2 on Scott McDonald Road have temporarily housed four new state troopers in the past five years.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.