Fort Morgan could soon have a new Fire Station 2

By Melanie LeCroy / melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 7/14/21

Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department is getting close to breaking ground on a new Fire Station 2 after more than two years of planning and permit struggles.

“This is a project we have been …

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Fort Morgan could soon have a new Fire Station 2

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Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department is getting close to breaking ground on a new Fire Station 2 after more than two years of planning and permit struggles.

“This is a project we have been working on for a couple of years now. We are waiting on a couple of approvals from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Corp of Engineers. The Bureau of Land Management has been a very difficult hurdle for us to get a permit to cross their right of way, but we have finally accomplished that goal,” said Joseph Emerson, secretary for the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department and the chair for the Station 2 Build Committee.

The new Station 2 will be located roughly 300 feet east of the existing station on State Highway 180. The larger property will allow for a larger building but more importantly it will have direct beach access. Currently, first responders must drive down State Highway 180, make a left and get back onto a county road before gaining access to the beach a few hundred yards from that point.

“The great thing about this piece of property is with the utilization of a county public access or right of way, we are going to have direct access out the back door to the beach in situations where we need to deploy lifesaving equipment or jet skis,” Emerson said.

The current Station 2 building is a small metal building with a few bathrooms. Emerson said the average interior temperature in the summer is over 100 degrees. The new building will have a day room, more space for equipment and allow for apparatus to be driven around the building instead of backing in. The building will also offer a place for emergency staging.

This has all been made possible by community support, donations and local businesses.

“We get a source of funding from the county but much of the money we receive is from donation. Occasionally, we have an opportunity to get grants. We have been working with Sassy Bass Restaurant Group on this project and have worked a deal where they are basically funding half of this in a land deal. It’s been great to see private businesses and donations make such an impact,” Emerson said.

Sassy Bass purchased the existing Fire Station 2 and donated a lot they owned for the new building. They are also helping the department financially with the build. The build out is estimated at $900,000.

“When we originally embarked on this path it was significantly less but due to COVID-19 shutdowns, the economy and the increase in cost of materials and such the latest estimate is $900,000 but that also includes a lot of work that the Army Corps of Engineers has asked us to go ahead and do to prevent impacts on the surrounding wetlands,” Emerson said.

Building and land development at the beach can be difficult due to environmental issues. Fort Morgan is home to the Alabama beach mouse which is a federally protected and endangered species. There are also wetlands to contend with. Emerson said they have been able to mitigate on-site for wetlands due to the size of the property. The Army Corps of Engineers required work to be done ahead of construction of prevent impacts to the surrounding wetlands.

“If everything lines up correctly, we should break ground before October,” Emerson said.