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County awards bid to build Tusculum fire station
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The Effingham County Fire and Rescue Department is expected to add another station in the next few months.

Commissioners approved a contract with J.L. Hardin Company for the planned Tusculum fire station, with a bid of $247,000. Eleven firms submitted bids for the work, and the entire project for building and site work was let to one contractor.

“This has been in planning for quite some time,” said County Administrator Toss Allen.

The county has identified a Tusculum station in its short-term work program and has $165,000 in special purpose local option sales tax funds set aside. But the remainder could be made up through a potential merger with the Springfield Fire Department, a pact that may be approved as early as next month.

“We as a staff don’t see a reason why it won’t work out,” Allen said. “There are still some details.”

The county fire department has 22 full-time employees and nine part-timers. The potential merger would boost the ranks by six. The city and the county anticipate a reduction in ISO ratings for the combined service area.

Should the merger proceed, the Springfield department would put a fire truck at the Tusculum station, relieving the county of the need and expense of purchasing a truck as part of the short-term work program.

“So there is money there within the portion of it to use,” Allen said. “It’s just balancing that all around.”

Allen also explained that J.L. Hardin is a site work contractor and two licenses are needed to build the Tusculum station. Licenses are required for a utility contractor and for a building contractor. The company does have a licensed general contractor.

“Both licenses are there,” Allen said. “It’s just that the prime will not be that person.”

The station also will be a metal building with very little inside of it, aside from a bathroom.

“The actual cost of the building as compared to the cost of the site work is equal to or a little less,” Allen said.

The Tusculum station is expected to be finished within 120 days.

Commissioners also approved an agreement with Guyton to operate the Griffin Lakes fire station. The county will occupy that station with existing equipment and personnel until the Tusculum station is ready.