CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Three new fire stations that will serve double duty as storm shelters are expected to cost Bradley County more than anticipated.
On Wednesday, the county's Finance Committee voted 5-0 to approve funding for Bradley County Fire & Rescue stations that will be at Minnis Road, Dalton Pike and Georgetown Road. The expense to the county is $1.1 million for the three facilities. Architectural design calculations placed the figure closer to half that amount.
The cost could have been as high as $1.5 million, except for a few construction material changes, Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said. The biggest changes included installing a 30-year shingle roof instead of a metal roof and controlling water runoff with a detention pond instead of covering the site in porous concrete.
"We would prefer to do a metal roof," Davis said. "It may be a payback in time when you start doing calculations, but at bid time it's usually a killer. It was probably the biggest number in these changes."
The metal roofing for the three stations would have cost $60,000, said Sandra Knight, county engineer.
The county will receive $1.1 million in hazard mitigation funding between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency because of the inclusion of storm shelter areas within the three new fire stations. Without the grants, the expense to the county would double.
The higher-than-expected cost for the stations dashed hopes expressed by several officials that low construction expenses would offset higher-than-expected costs for new pumper trucks and engines.
The firefighting vehicles, which cost the county a little more than $2 million, were almost $400,000 higher than expected. Much of that overage was for new emission control standards and fully equipping the vehicles, according to previous statements made by Dewey Woody, the former fire chief.
In addition to the budgeting time has been a major consideration.
All the work associated with the construction of the new stations, including design, the grant process and, eventually, breaking ground, has proved time consuming, officials said.
"It's put our backs against the wall," Davis said.
Bradley County Fire & Rescue has started increasing its personnel to man the additions, which will make 13 stations in all for the department. Fifteen firefighters recently graduated, and another group is undergoing 14 weeks of training. Another batch of recruits will start training in January, said Troy Spence, the department's interim chief.
The objective is to get the stations fully operational by next spring. The stations will cover areas now protected by the Cleveland Fire Department under an agreement between the county and city. That agreement ends June 30.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.