Faith aldermen look at long-range fire department plans

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

By Steve Huffman

Salisbury Post

FAITH — It’ll be months or even years before a decision on the matter is made, but members of the Faith Board of Aldermen on Tuesday discussed an addition to the town’s fire station.

The discussion came during the board’s monthly meeting.

Fire Chief Scott Gardner referred to a meeting he’d had recently with Allen Hart, a representative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, concerning funding the expansion, as well as funding the purchase of a new ladder truck for the town.

Gardner said Hart and the U.S.D.A. work with municipalities like Faith to help them secure money for such work.

He said Hart referred to Faith’s fire department expansion as a “very favorable project,” but also noted that the vast majority of the money the town would likely be provided would be in the form of a loan, and not a grant.

Gardner said he planned to contact Bill Burgin of Salisbury’s Ramsay, Burgin, Smith Architects later this week for a feasibility study concerning Faith’s proposed projects.

Gardner said a top-of-the-line 75-foot ladder truck would cost better than $500,000. He said lower-priced trucks are available, noting, “We want middle-of-the-road.”

Gardner said expansion of the fire department is expected to cost between $200,000 and $250,000.

He said Hart recommended the town get separate loans for the truck and the expansion in the event money is secured to pay off one early.

Gardner said he realized that some people would question Faith’s need for a ladder truck, but noted, “I have my justifications.”

Mayor Bill Johnson asked how much it would cost to build a new fire station. Gardner said it’s almost impossible to build one for less than $1 million. Someone mentioned Salisbury’s new fire station on Statesville Boulevard and its $1.4 million price tag.

And that fire station, it was noted, is fairly basic, with four bays and a simple facade.

Johnson said that should Faith decide to build a new fire station, the town could sell the present building on Raney Street and build on land already owned by the municipality.

Such considerations will be weighed long before a decision is made, Johnson and other town leaders said.

“I’m just looking long range,” Johnson said. “Would we be better off to build from scratch?”

Town leaders said the present fire station was a tire store before Faith purchased the facility in the late 1980s. They said it’s a cramped building, and doesn’t provide space for a training room. The structure isn’t up to present-day building codes, they said, not providing separate restrooms for males and females, for instance.

Mayor Pro Tem Mark Shores noted that the state’s Local Government Commission won’t allow municipalities to borrow more than they can afford for such projects, regardless of the path that Faith’s leaders decide to follow.

Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or