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By Sarah Sue Ingram
The day room in the Holden Beach sub fire station went from barely adequate to sublime.
Residents who toured the remodeled facility at Thursday’s ribbon cutting were impressed.
More importantly, making enlarged and comfortable quarters for firefighters means paid staff can man the facility during summer tourist season.
“It’s going to give us the capabilities to have paid staff from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” Tri-Beach fire chief Doug Todd said.
Also, the steps inside the fire station were removed and new ones built on the outside, behind the station.
“We moved them outside because the fire trucks kept getting bigger and longer,” Todd said.
Remodeling and new construction cost $29,000, said town manager David Hewett.
“It was budgeted at $40,000, and we brought it in at $29,000,” Hewett said. “We do still have to remodel the bathrooms.”
Besides the fire chief, other firefighters on hand for the tour were Steve Greene, Tom Burke, Justin Swaim, Richard Chaney, James Skipper, Tim Sager and Josh Lilly.
“The town did a good job with renovating,” said Skipper, one of 45 firefighters on the Tri-Beach roster.
“I live a block from here. Five (firefighters) altogether live on the island.”
“The sub fire station was built in the 1980s, Todd said.
The location, on Starfish Drive, was chosen because it was the exact middle of the island.
“This is as close as you can get to the mid-point of the island,” Todd said.
So fire trucks can go a maximum distance in either direction.
Firefighters will be there from 7 to 7,” safety officer Greene said. “They provide an invaluable service to the island.”
Holden Beach residents appreciate them even more now because four beach houses have burned down in the last two years. Coastal winds spread flames from one beach house to the one nextdoor, and both burned to the ground. More houses would have burned if not for the Tri-Beach firefighters.
Looking at the spacious day room, Greene said, “Compared to what it looked like before, this is awesome.”
Carol Lehr agreed, “It’s beautiful.”
Richard Jones did the general contracting for the remodeling, including the steps to the remodeled area, while Arthur Robbins replaced the siding.
Sharon Butler said, “I’m really happy to have a fire house on the island staffed.”
Commissioner Sandy Miller said, “It’s great the paid staff and volunteers have a comfortable place—and that it came in under budget.”
The carpet is new but the furniture was donated from multiple residences, Hewett said.
Mayor Alan Holden, who cut the ribbon, said to the fire chief, “Your men have always gone beyond the call of duty to protect this island—the people and their property.”