Construction of two new fire stations is back on track in Biloxi after a major setback. A few weeks ago, the company contracted to build new stations in Woolmarket and in East Biloxi, backed out of the deal. The city had to look for a new builder.
Mayor A.J. Holloway had hoped to be hearing the sounds of construction by now. That's why he pushed to accept new construction bids for the fire stations. On Tuesday, the council agreed. It will cost almost $2 million to build a second Woolmarket station and replace East End station on Howard Avenue. Some people are eager to get started.
"This is the bullpen where the men sleep, and as you can see we've got a pretty serious roof leak there," said Capt. Anthony Murphy as he showed me around the East End.
Biloxi firefighters say the roof there is one big patch job with leaks that can make getting a good night's sleep hard.
"You could be sleeping and wake up with rain dripping on your head," said Murphy.
In just about every room at East End, Captain Murphy pointed out walls with stains or mildew. He says Hurricane season brings even more flooding worries.
"If we get more than a small tidal surge, then we have to pull up out of here and go to the station north of tracks to work out of there. So that leaves this end of town without any fire protection."
In Woolmarket, just one station handles fire protection. Mayor A.J. Holloway says a second station will benefit the newest section of the city.
Holloway foresees "better service for the people of Woolmarket in the annexed area. We will have quicker response time and safer conditions there."
Since the new East End will be built next door, firefighters can look forward to leaving bad plumbing and sewage backups behind, but not the community they've come to love.
Captain Murphy says "We're ready to go now. We're looking forward to it a great deal.. The station is old and run down and past the point of repair, but the community is the reward for working at this station."
The new bids for the fire stations will cost about $25,000 more than the previous bid. However Mayor A.J. Holloway believes since separate companies will construct the buildings, the work will go faster. Holloway says construction may begin next month and finish up about this time next year.