Biloxi fire stations to receive roof upgrades

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The city of Biloxi has enlisted the help of Starks Contracting to move forward with some much needed renovations.

Using federal funds the city is undergoing major improvements to fire station roofs at Bay Vista and Veterans Avenue.  Roughly $1.1 million is set aside for upgrades to the roofs of fire houses in Biloxi.

Work has already started on one of the buildings and there was definitely a need for the change.  Fire Chief David Roberts stood proudly outside of the fire station on Veterans Avenue as he observed the framework of a new roof.  It was something he said was long overdue.

"This is a FEMA, MEMA upgrade project. The flat roofs that are on here didn't meet any kind of wind load, so this is definitely an upgrade to it," Roberts said.

Mark Williams of Williams & Associates Architects says receiving the funding for the project is somewhat like insurance for any future mishaps.  "They're funding the project simply because they don't want to have to come back and repair a damage in a subsequent storm so what they'd like do is come in with an initial approach and repair the station to the point that they can forego any damage during the next storm," Williams said.

The replacement roofing will be able to withstand wind-speeds of 155 miles per hour.

It hasn't been an easy process, but in either case the chief said it was well worth the effort and every penny.  "One of the problems is we've had to put pilings in to get the uplift on the roof that we're putting on and that's what drove the price of the roofs up," Roberts said.

This structure survived the likes of Camille and Katrina.  Yet, upgrades became essential.  "Most of the time, we'll be in these stations during the storm, so that's why they need to be secure and able to handle the wind load," Roberts said.

The Veterans Avenue location is the first of three to begin the upgrade process, but Chief Roberts says he doesn't mind waiting.  "To finally see something happening and end in sight, it is a good feeling," Roberts said.

The roofs on other two stations have been prepped for the upgrades.  The overall project is expected to be complete early next year.

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