KANNAPOLIS, NC (WBTV) - Construction on two Kannapolis Fire Department stations is now underway following a groundbreaking ceremony held on Tuesday.
City officials say Fire Station #2 and #3 have exceeded their lifespan and the decision to build new facilities was made after studies showed the stations would cost more to renovate than to replace.
Kannapolis City Council members were on hand, along with city officials and staff, to break ground on Fire Station #3 which will relocate from Florida Avenue to three acres located at the intersection of Concord Lake Road and Old Earnhardt Road.
Fire Station #3 is relocating due to the fact that a larger station cannot be constructed on the small lot where it is currently located. The new site is more centrally located, will allow for quicker response times to a larger area of the city, and is in a commercial area versus the residential neighborhood where it is now.
Fire Station #2 will remain at its current location on Richard Avenue. The old station will be demolished and the new station constructed in its place.
"We are fulfilling a need in our community. With the growth of our city comes the need to be prepared for emergencies. These two stations will allow us to be ready to meet the needs of our residents when they have an emergency situation," said Kannapolis Mayor Darrell Hinnant.
"These two stations will allow our firefighters to have workplaces that are constructed specifically for professional staff who are working 24/7 shifts. The stations will give us the opportunity to have training spaces and other facilities we need to house equipment and trucks each station in the city requires in order to meet the emergency needs of Kannapolis residents," said Fire Chief Ernie Hiers.
Fire Station #2 was built in 1963. With only 1,838 square feet, it was originally designed as a volunteer fire station with no living quarters for fire personnel and only has one bay to house a single fire truck. The building is 54 years old and has inadequate workspace areas for firefighters to work and train.
Fire Station #3 was built 50 years old ago in 1967 and has 3,200 square feet with two bays. Also, originally a volunteer fire department, firefighters are using a mobile structure for their living quarters due to the inadequate space. Additional space is needed for both personnel and equipment.
Both stations cannot adequately accommodate the number of fire trucks and other fire service equipment needed to cover the demand for emergency services in the growing City. The facilities were inherited by the City once the volunteer fire departments disbanded and the City formed its professional department. The buildings had not been maintained over the years. This combined with the lack of adequate space has resulted in the need for new stations.
The City will save money by constructing both stations at the same time. Both stations will have the same design and layout. Each will be 11,000 square feet, accommodate two fire trucks, and have eight bedrooms and four bathrooms. The stations will open in 2019.
Last year the department responded to approximately 9,000 fire and medical emergency calls. Firefighter personnel have grown from 12 part-time firefighters in 1997 to 84 as of today. The City has five stations: Station 1 on Firehouse Drive, Station 2 on Richard Avenue, Station 3 (currently on Florida Avenue), Station 4 on Stewart Street, and Station 5 on Barr Road.