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Plans to rebuild burned W.Va. fire station cut in half

Former station destroyed in 2010; dept. unable to make itself exempt from paying ‘prevailing wages’ for construction

By Matt Murphy and Ashley B. Craig
Charleston Daily Mail

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. — Work on the new Sissonville fire station will be underway in a few weeks, but the project was scaled back significantly when the department couldn’t get itself exempt from paying so-called “prevailing wages.”

Construction costs have been reduced by more than 40 percent - from $1.9 million to $1.1 million.

Plans for the station were scaled back when firefighters learned they would have to pay state-determined prevailing wages to build the new station, which is planned for the Call Road area.

Work could begin as early as May 29, Fire Chief Tim Gooch told Kanawha County commissioners on Monday.

Commissioners voted to allocate $100,000 from the “catastrophic fund” to the new station. The former one was destroyed by fire in October 2010.

Commission President Kent Carper said commissioners voted in the months immediately following the devastating blaze to give firefighters the funds. The money was given to firefighters Monday because they needed the funds to get started on construction.

The building site is less than a mile from where the previous station stood and less than a mile from Interstate 77, where firefighters respond to a number of emergency calls.

Firefighters have been storing new equipment and working out of the Loftis station on Edens Fork Drive.

The funds from the commission were the last chunk of money needed for work to get under way, Carper said.

Gooch said Pray Construction was hired to serve as project manager and was working out the final details.

Firefighters are planning a groundbreaking ceremony to coincide with the start of construction later this month.

Gooch hoped construction would be complete by October, which would be the second anniversary of the devastating fire. He said the building would be dedicated then.

“I’d like to have a dedication for the community to show what their money went for,” Gooch said. “It’s not my fire station; it’s the community’s fire station, and I’d like for them to be as proud of it as we are.”

“It’s a fairly good-sized building,” he said. “The bays were cut down a little bit to do things and the inside was reworked. Pray has been great in trying to squeeze things down and still give us what we need.”’

He said a meeting room originally planned for 69 people now would hold about 50.

The changes enabled the department to pay prevailing wages, Gooch said.

“We were told by the state that it had to be, so with the downsizing it will be paid,” he said.

Carper said it was good to use local contractors to do work paid with by local tax dollars.

“The line of logic here is that prevailing wages means you’ll have a reputable contractor with reputable skills and workers,” Carper said. “The belief was that prevailing wages would jack up the cost, but that’s not the case.

“Local workers are local taxpayers.”

Carper said the important thing was that the building would be built.

Copyright 2012 Charleston Newspapers