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New fire station progressing

With construction of the new Ironton fire station nearing the halfway point, Fire Chief Tom Runyon said he likes what he sees.

The new 10,600 square foot, one-story building is being built on the corner of Fourth and Jefferson streets, the same location as the old structure.

City officials worked for more than four years to replace the 90-year-old building that fire officials said had outlived its usefulness.

Construction on the $1.9 million project began in December and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Chief Runyon has kept up to date on the progress, and said the building is really starting to come together.

"Things are moving pretty quickly," he said. "The rain did give them some problems earlier, but the point they are at now, it has not bothered them too much."

The exterior walls are up, most of the roof trusses are on and the sheeting should come soon, he said.

The new building was designed to meet all of the department's needs for many years to come. It will be able to accommodate up to 30 firefighters, nearly double the amount of firefighters the department has now. The building will also have four vehicle bays and includes living spaces, a mezzanine, a community education room, offices and a three-story training tower.

"The new station will be a tremendous benefit to the department and the city," Runyon said, emphasizing that it would not be possible without the support of Mayor Bob Cleary, the current and previous councils and all the community support.

"It will help speed up responses, help with in-house training and provide more accommodations for the firefighters. City-wise, we will be centrally located, have all our equipment on the same level, have our large ladder truck right there and have a community education room for classes such as first aid and CPR."

In May, the Ironton City Council authorized two change orders for the construction project - a $1,886 change with general contractors Portco Inc. to modify the cabinets and counters and a $3,397 change with BB&E for shower and plumbing changes.

The original building plans were submitted to the state and tentatively approved before the project was put to bid. During the bidding process, the city was notified that the plans required changes in the living quarters to meet requirements set by the Americans With Disabilities Act, City Engineer Philip Biggs said.

It may have cost more to delay the bidding process, so the administration decided to move forward and make the changes later, he said.

Sufficient funds for both changes were accounted for in the budget because council knew these would be necessary and will not delay the project, Biggs said.

However, another change order of $27,000 for debris removal of iron slag is still under discussion. Biggs said there was a verbal agreement between former engineer Joe McCallister, the contractors and the architectural firm that this change was not expected to exceed $8,000.

Because there was no documentation, it has taken the city's attorneys, the architects and the contractor a little longer to resolve this issue, Biggs said.

Since December, the fire department has made a 12-by-60 trailer on the Second Street side of the municipal garage its temporary home.

Overall, the trailer has been a little inconvenient, but has not caused any problems, Runyon said. The response time to the south side of the city has only decreased by less than one minute.

Equipment through the Fire Act grant, including an air compressor, is scheduled to arrive in September, and the plan is that it can be delivered to the new building and installed, Runyon said.

After state inspections, a temporary occupancy permit could be awarded in October or November with the full occupancy not expected until December or January, he said.

To help pay for the project, the city's fire safety fee will be increased three times during a 30-year period.

Currently, the fire fee costs citizens $4 a month per residence. To account for increased costs for manpower, equipment and health care, the monthly fee will be increased by 75 cents in 2010, 85 cents in 2020 and $1.05 per month in 2030. Businesses will see an increase of 15 cents per 1,000 gallons in 2010 and 2020 and a 20-cent increase in 2030.

Additional financing from the project comes from more than $700,000 in Community Development Block Grants and Revolving Loan Funds and a $1.3 million bond that will be repaid by the fire fee.

The project's designers, Cole & Russell Architects, Inc., of Cincinnati, recommended all contractors for the construction.

Portco, Inc. of Portsmouth are the general construction contractors. BB&E, Inc. was awarded the plumbing contract.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning contract was awarded to General Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. of Flatwoods, Ky. Jordan-Smith Electric Co. Inc. of Huntington, W.Va., are the electrical contractors.

A contract for fire protection was awarded to Brewer & Co. of W. Va., Inc. of Charleston, W.Va.