Construction on Columbus’ new Fire Station 4 will soon be underway, after city officials broke ground on Wednesday morning.
Columbus Fire and Rescue is moving the facility roughly a mile west from its current location at the intersection of Airline and South McCrary roads. The new location, also on Airline Road, is near the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society.
Chief Martin Andrews said the new facility will offer significantly more up-to-date amenities and capabilities than the current Fire Station 4, which was built in 1960. The old facility is about 3,200 square feet. The new one will be about 10,000 square feet.
“No modern day fire truck that is built can go into [the current Station 4] because the doors are not tall enough and not wide enough,” Andrews said.
The new station will cost $640,000, said Robyn Eastman, senior project manager for J5 Broaddus, the city’s project management firm. It’s being funded through city appropriations and rebate money from the Mississippi Insurance Commission.
Eastman said it’s hard to estimate a completion date. He said the pre-engineered steel building will be delivered to the site by the end of the month, and he hopes to have it up by September. Once the building is erected, he said, it will be easier to gauge when the project should finish.
Andrews said the facility will house 15 firefighters and command staff.
Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said the station will first be built as a single-floor building, and a second floor will be added during a second phase.
“It’ll be the most modern, high-tech facility that we have when it’s completed,” Smith said. “This is a great addition and another great asset to Columbus Fire and Rescue. This is one of the reasons why Columbus Fire and Rescue is the only nationally-accredited (fire department) in Mississippi and Alabama.”
Andrews said CFR’s long-term goal is for the station to house a northeast Mississippi satellite location for the Mississippi Fire Academy.
“We’ll be able to train our own firefighters here, which will be an exceptional cost decrease to the city and its citizens,” Andrews said. “Also, we’ll be bringing in revenue from getting other firefighters from around the state to come in.”
Andrews said the new location will help CFR improve its response times to the Southside area, bringing them to under five minutes from the station to the edge of CFR’s territory on Highway 69.
The new fire station is in Ward 2, and Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens was excited Wednesday morning to see the project moving forward. He said it’s a “major” step forward, even comparing it to a grand slam in a baseball game.
“This is for all of those who say this mayor and council is not on top of things and not running the city properly — this is showing that we’re trying to put back into the city,” Mickens said. “We’ve got a new facility coming here that can help the fire department with accreditation. We also killed two birds with one stone — we can cover Southside and East Columbus at the same time.”
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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