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Renovations force fire station to relocate
McEver Road fire house temporarily moving to Liberty Mutual building basement
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Renovations to a Hall County fire station have led the department to temporarily use an alternative facility.

Hall County Fire Department's Station 4 on McEver Road will be housed in the Liberty Mutual building at the intersection of Browns Bridge and McEver roads until renovations are complete.

The county purchased the 120,000-plus-square-foot building in August 2010 with the intention of housing several county departments located in different buildings in the downtown area.

There are currently no other county departments housed in the building, however. Liberty Mutual still leases the building from the county, but it only occupies the upper floors. The fire department will move into the building's basement.

"We'll just move the furniture over there. There's empty space, there's kitchen facilities, there's bunk rooms over there," said Chief David Kimbrell of the Hall County Fire Department. "We'll back the trucks down into the loading dock area to have them secured, and we'll basically just respond from there."

The contract with Liberty Mutual would not allow the county to have full access to the building until their lease expires Sept. 30, but an amendment to the lease allowed the fire department to partially occupy it prior to that date, said Ken Rearden, Hall County public works director.

"We can come in and do renovations and architectural drawings and that sort of thing, but we can not occupy the building, so we had to get with the Liberty Mutual folks and get them to agree to let them be housed in a vacant portion of the building," Rearden said.

Kimbrell said the 35-plus-year-old fire station was in need of several repairs.

"The building had leaked over the years, so the interior walls were molded and the tile had come off and the exterior walls had cracked and it was basically rotten," Kimbrell said. "It's pretty much being rebuilt."

The contract for the renovations was awarded to Carol Daniel Construction of Gainesville for approximately $311,000, said Jody Woodall, civil engineer for the county.

Rearden said the county considered an alternate location to temporarily house the station, but it would have cost around $5,000 per month to lease the property.

He said the Liberty Mutual building was a cheaper option for the county because, "We already own it and we're paying all the utilities and everything on it."

Renovations to the station are expected to be completed within 90 to 120 days once work begins.

Kimbrell said the department expects to move into the temporary building within the next two weeks.

Repairs to the station then will begin.

Woodall, however, said the renovations likely will not begin until closer to Sept. 1.

Kimbrell said the temporary relocation will not affect the fire station's daily operations.

"The public won't see any difference in response time or anything because we're just 100 yards from where we currently are," he said.