JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Construction is underway to replace the busiest and oldest fire station in James Island’s Public Service District.
The multi-million dollar project is two decades in the making.
Most firefighters work 24 hours on, 48 hours off. JIPSD Chief Chris Seabolt said when it came to planning this new station, it was a balance between using tax dollars wisely and making sure the station was safe and comfortable for firefighters who spend so much of their lives here.
“It’s replacing a near 60-year-old building over on Camp Road, so we’ve been trying to get the building replaced for near 20 years,” Seabolt said.
The changes and construction around Camp and Folly Roads near the old location made is impossible to rebuild there, Seabolt said in an open letter to the community last June. “Due to the increasing difficulty safely exiting the station during high-volume traffic times and safety issues with the high-speed thoroughfare that now exists in front of the station, the decision was made to re-locate the Fire Station,” he wrote.
The new station, which will serve as fire headquarters, will be located at Folly Road at Prescott Street between Camp Road and the James Island Wal-Mart.
The single-story station will be 12,400 square feet on an 1.5 acre site.
“We were really close to the City station over on Camp and Ft Johnson. This moves us a little bit farther away and allows us to cover the island between the six fire stations much better than we were doing before,” Seabolt added.
The James Island Public Service District bought three lots on the site for $1.4 million, salvaged what they could for Habitat for Humanity, and broke ground on the $6.1 million fire station about a month ago.
South Con Building Group is handling construction.
The new station will feature three bays for fire trucks, solar panels, less expensive polished concrete floors, and a screened porch the Chief thinks is especially important.
“The number one killer of firefighters today is suicide," he said. "So having a place where they can come, chill out after a bad call, sit down and relax and talk to each other? That was very important to us.”
The dirt is piled high now as part of compacting process; the station won’t be that high in the end. It will sit two feet above base flood elevation.
The goal is to move in by December 2020.