Wilmington Fire Department moves operations, living quarters after Florence damage

Wilmington Fire Department moves operations, living quarters after Florence damage
Wilmington Fire Department is working on a plan to make-do until damage from Hurricane Florence can be repaired (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - With a new fire station under construction on Shipyard Boulevard, this fall was already going to be a transitional period for the Wilmington Fire Department.

Now, thanks to Hurricane Florence, WFD is looking at even more disruption, according to an email from Fire Chief Buddy Martinette to fire and city staff.

Serious leaks led to mold and other damage in several WFD buildings, including living spaces for firefighters and office space for administrative staff. Emails between city staff show that sheet rock, flooring, insulation and other building materials had to be removed, and environmental experts are still monitoring air conditions in many fire department facilities.

On Friday, Nov. 2, the administrative staff at the WFD headquarters will move operations to the old location of the Register of Deeds located at the corner of 2nd Street and Grace Street. Current estimates have the relocation lasting anywhere from three to six months. The city’s information technology department has been working to outfit the building with internet and prepare it to serve the fire department’s needs.

Some fire personnel will still be able to stay in all but two of the dormitory rooms at the headquarters until WFD can bring in a portable living area that will be placed in the parking lot.

By having a portable living area, the email states, construction crews can more easily access and repair the dormitory space that is damaged, and fully take care of any mold or other environmental concerns. There is no timeline on how long the temporary living set up will be needed.

Additional emails show Public Services Director David Mayes asking that the dormitory spaces be prioritized and completed first if at all possible. Buildings Manager Christine Sims said putting those living spaces first has been the goal since the days immediately after the storm, but that getting contracts and notices issued has caused delays.

She said the construction bids are due back on Friday, Nov. 9.

At Fire Station 5, which is located on Wellington Avenue, the station was so damaged personnel had to be moved to Fire Station 6 on Carolina Beach Road to sleep, and day to day activities moved to an office complex. Those two stations were supposed to be combining at the new fire station on Shipyard, but damage to that site as well as construction delays could keep the new building inoperable until January.

In the coming weeks, Martinette told staff he wants to have a travel trailer set up so Station 5 personnel can at least sleep near the station as work continues.

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