The Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department has decided to spend almost $100,000 to repair damages at Fire Station No. 9, even though it is likely to be rebuilt in a new location in the next few years.
Last week, the Augusta Commission approved a winning bid from Continental Construction of $96,836 to repair the damaged station in 60 days. The only competing bid was from RCN Contracting for $100,900 for work to be completed in 70 days, according to commission documents.
Station 9 is on a list of stations that need to be rebuilt, Fire Chief Chris James said, but that is likely years away.
Alexander Drive’s Station No. 10 was the newest to be rebuilt and was unveiled in January. The next station in line is No. 2 on Walton Way.
“It needs to be replaced pretty soon,” James said, noting that Station 9 is at least two or three stations down the list.
James said moving Station 9 up is impractical because the department would first have to find and purchase new land. The process of bidding the project, writing a contract and building the station means not having a working station in that area for too long. Usually when the fire department rebuilds a station, the existing station is used until construction is complete.
“It takes about a year or more to build a new station,” James said. “We can’t afford to wait.”
On June 25, a fire engine hit Station 9’s center column between its garage doors, and part of the front of the building collapsed. The firefighters were moved to neighboring stations while an investigation into the accident and the extent of the damage was done by the city’s risk management division.
A preliminary report found that the column was not reinforced. It’s difficult to determine why, officials said, because the building underwent frequent modifications over the years.
James said the structure was built to serve another purpose before the fire department moved into it in the late 1970s. Since then, the building has had several additions.
“A report said the garage door was not up to code,” he said. “This reconstruction will fix that and allow the station to be used safely.”
The driver of the truck, which has been repaired, will not face any disciplinary actions. An accident review board said it could not determine fault, and risk management decided the driver was not at fault.
James said he will meet with the law department to complete a contract with Continental Construction this week. He said he hopes construction will begin in the next few weeks and that it won’t take 60 days to complete.
“My hope is we could move back in within a few months,” he said.