The work on a new fire and rescue facility was made official with a ceremonial ground breaking. Wednesday’s oppressive heat didn’t stifle the fact that a comfortable peace-of-mind will soon come to those living in the Cane Bay area.
The piece of donated land is cleared and the work has already started. With rural departments stretched thin because of increased calls, a new headquarters is finally being constructed in a long underserved area of Berkeley County.
“One of the things that is unique about this firehouse is it will be the first firehouse in Berkeley County which has all three of the public services in it,” said Chief Timothy Stephenson, from the Whitesville Rural Fire Department.
The new building, at 1903 Cane Bay Blvd., is set to be completed in the spring of 2020 and will serve over 16,000 homes, once the area is built out.
“I am excited about this concept; law enforcement, EMS and the fire department all in one spot to serve a community,” said Berkeley County Sheriff Duane Lewis. “I cannot think of a better idea; I am proud to be a part of this occasion and to be a part of this overall plan.”
The, close to, three acres of land is worth $480 thousand, was given to the effort by the developer and contractors cleared and leveled the area at no cost. Along with donations, the $3.5 million project will not cost tax payers.
“This Groundbreaking marks the next phase of a project that has been the result of a tremendous community effort,” said District 100, State Rep. Sylleste Davis. “I look forward to opening day.”
During the event Davis gave Chief Stephenson, who is praised for his role in getting the facility to the construction phase, a U.S. flag on behalf of the State House of Representatives.
Such a project inside Cane Bay had been discussed for over a decade. A smaller substation was always the plan but the area grew so far so fast, the county made the decision to build a larger headquarters building.
“On behalf of county council we’re extremely excited about this; we’re blessed to have an outstanding development,” said Berkeley County Supervisor Johnny Cribb, in front of a crowd of first responders and local and state leaders.
“When I see that building I see some of the bravest, some of the most selfless people we’ll have in Berkeley County,” said Cribb before calling all the members of the Whitesville VFD to the front to be recognized.
Out of the facility responders will serve a growing residential and commercial district of 50 square miles. In any direction residents inside the district will be five miles away from fire and EMS.
That will ease another big concern from those inside Cane Bay related to insurance costs. Current distances to the the nearest firehouse makes insurance much more expensive because of the, insurable risk, better known as the ISO rating. The new distance will lower costs to those who live and do business in the area.
“It’s centrally located, not only in our district but it’s centrally located in the division itself,” Stephenson said.