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Fire Department seeks money in budget to expand services on U.S. 61 South

Vicksburg’s Central Fire Station may not be the only city fire station designated for relocation.

Fire Chief Craig Danczyk Monday requested $325,000 in the fire department’s capital budget to possibly purchase land to relocate Fire Station No. 8 from Halls Ferry Park to a site on U.S. 61 South.

The request came as the Board of Mayor and Aldermen held budget meetings with city department heads. The board is considering a $29 million fiscal 2020 budget.

The board has discussed building a new Central Fire Station in the downtown area because of the potential cost of renovating the 95-year-old building on Walnut Street.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. in June appointed a committee to review the cost of renovations and building a new station after bids to replace windows in the building came in over the estimated $350,000 for the project. One bid was almost $500,000. The city has rebid the project.

Danczyk said relocating Station 8 would enhance the fire department’s coverage and create space for expanding recreational facilities at Halls Ferry Park.

“We were looking in the area of 61 South,” Danczyk said Tuesday. “Part of the intent is we want to enhance our coverage map the best we can, and there is a lot of commercial and residential in that area.”

The city has one fire station U.S. 61 South, with Station 5 at the Vicksburg Municipal Airport. When Station 5 needs backup, Danczyk said, Stations 7 and 8, the closest to 5, respond.

Sometimes, he said, there is a lag in response time, adding by having another station on U.S. 61 South “we feel we can respond in any direction more efficiently and be near a lot of the commercial and residential buildings in the area.”

Danczyk the relocation is part of the department’s long-term goal to improve the city’s fire rating from a Class 5 to Class 3.

He said he and the deputy chiefs have examined different sites, and most have been in the $280,000 to $300,000 price range. He said the $325,000 was requested to cover any additional cost.

Addressing the Central Fire Station, Danczyk said he and his deputy chiefs have looked at potential sites to relocate Central and have presented proposals to different contractors.

A new building, he said, could run from $3 to $4 million. If the city wants to build something comparable to Central, “we’re looking at $5 to $6 million.”

Danczyk, however, said he wanted to wait for final bids on the renovation project. Even if the city began building a new Central Fire Station now, he said, firefighters would still remain in the present building.

The chief also requested $120,000 to repair the concrete pad at the fire department training center at the end of Old Mill Road off Waltersville Street.

Danczyk said years of erosion have removed dirt from under the slab, affecting the surface. He said the slab sat underwater during the 2011 spring Mississippi flood.

The $120,000, he said, would help with repairs and cover building a temporary parking area to accommodate cars during repairs to the pad.

A public hearing on the budget is set for Thursday, Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m.

Under state law, the city’s budget must be approved by Sunday, Sept. 15. The new fiscal year starts Tuesday, Oct. 1.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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