Aug. 10, 2001 – V.I. Fire Services got a $1.6 million boost this week which will lay the groundwork for one new fire station and provide personnel and renovations for three others that currently are closed — the Dorothea and Fortuna/Bordeaux facilities on St. Thomas and the Cotton Valley station on St. Croix.
The $1.6 million supplemental appropriation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull along with other funds will be "seed money" for the creation of a new central facility that will replace the old "hotel fire station" alongside Fort Christian, Ian Williams Sr., Fire Services director, said
"We've been working on this," Williams said of the plan to relocate the in-town station. "It's a matter of full commitment to begin the project." He said the agency is eyeing government-owned property in the Ross-Taarneberg area at the foot of Pollyberg Hill for the new facility.
And it won't just be a fire station, Williams said. "It will be our administrative offices and training academy, and I would like to see the emergency medical technicians there, too."
What's needed is "a structure that will look to the future," he added. "We have more money in the Asset Recovery Fund. It's just a matter of the scope of work " He said Fire Services has been working with the Public Works Department on the design and site of the facility.
As far as rehabilitating the closed stations, "We will be doing the Dorothea station first," Williams said. He said Fire Services has the funds needed to reopen the North Side St. Thomas facility. Residents and community groups have protested the years-long shutdown of the station on Crown Mountain Road.
"We have $500,000 to hire an additional 11 firefighters to open the Fortuna station," on the island's West End, "but we will do Dorthea first, because it is more ready to be opened," he said.
He has targeted November for the reopening. "It depends on the hiring and training of the new firefighters," he said. The facility now there can be used, he said, until a new station is constructed –for which Fire Services "may need more money."
The supplemental appropriation provides $300,000 for construction of the Fortuna/Bordeaux station, which Williams said will be started as soon as the Dorothea station is reopened.
For the Cotton Valley station on St. Croix's East End, Fire Services has received $160,000 for a new pumper truck and $200,000 to hire six firefighters.
Williams said he also has received a grant of $241,780 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a new fleet of fire trucks and pumpers.
"We have already sent a proposal to lease 10 new fire trucks for the territory to Commissioner [Marc] Biggs at Property and Procurement," he said. "We have already made contact to make these projects a reality."
With all of these efforts in the works as hurricane season is in full swing, "I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have to stop," Williams said


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