Oct. 2--MOREHEAD CITY -- Morehead City Fire and EMS Station 3 is an example of mutual aid of a different sort.
The newly renovated facility being used by the town sits on property owned by the Wildwood Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department. Through a 20-year lease agreement, the two departments that have often stepped up to help each other respond to fire and rescue calls have now come together to help themselves.
The arrangement gives Morehead City a station at the west end of town, and the site and utility improvements provided by the town benefit Wildwood, which operates its station at the same site.
"They had the building we needed, and they needed improvements we could provide, so our (town) board and their board (of directors) came up with this plan," City Manager Randy Martin said.
Morehead City has been providing fire and emergency medical services from the new station since June, but it was only recently that all project elements were completed.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Monday to celebrate the project and publicly thank the Wildwood department for its cooperation.
"It's a great partnership and a win-win for both departments," Morehead City Fire Chief Wes Lail said prior to the ceremony.
Under the plan, the town renovated a structure that Wildwood was primarily using for storage.
Two of the building's six bays were converted to living quarters; one houses a town ambulance and another houses a fire truck. The remaining two are for continued use by the Wildwood department, Lail said.
The new station is strategically located to minimize response time for fire and emergency medical calls in the rapidly growing western sector of the town's jurisdiction.
Station 1 is located downtown on Bridges Street, and Station 2 is in a more central location of town on U.S. 70 near 35th Street.
"Station 2 was built in 1956, so there has been tremendous change since then," Lail said.
Martin said the new station also allows for an EMS unit, putting one at each side of town.
"The even distribution of service -- particularly having an EMS unit responding at both ends of town -- is beneficial," he said.
The fire and EMS improvements also satisfy state regulatory agency criteria necessary to retain and eventually improve the city's fire insurance rating, Martin said.
In conjunction with the renovations to the building for the station, the town made site enhancements including repaving the parking area, improving drainage and installing a flag pole. The Wildwood department, which is located within the city limits, was also able to hook up to town water and sewer.
Under the terms of the lease, site and utility improvements were funded by Morehead City, and the cost will offset rent payments in the early years of the lease, Martin said.Contact staff writer Jannette Pippin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-808-2275.