City seeks consulting firm for fire station No. 2 rebuild

By HASKEL BURNS,

The next step in the process of rebuilding the tornado-ravaged Hattiesburg Fire Department Station No. 2 is in the works, as city officials are accepting Statements of Qualifications from consulting firms for design, engineering and construction management of the project.

Duties for the firm would include tasks such as site grading and layout, cost estimates, compliance with requirements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and material selection. The original Fire Station No. 2, which was located on Arledge Street, was destroyed in the January 2017 tornado that ripped the building’s roof off and destroyed its contents.

“Part of the process is for us to select a consulting firm provide design services for a new fire station,” Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George said. “Our ultimate goal is to relocate that fire station a block over onto Edwards Street, and so we’re receiving proposals for a consultant to come in and assist with that process. The work that they do will eventually lead to the design and what we use to build the new Fire Station No. 2.”

In January, Chief Administrative Officer Ann Jones told Hattiesburg City Council members that the city had an insurance policy of $225,000 on the fire station. However, when FEMA officials inspected the building after the tornado, they based their assessment on repairing the building to its prior condition, and only allocated less than $45,000 of eligible funds for the facility.

“Obviously, the city took exception to that,” Jones said. “FEMA has guidelines so that if you have a discrepancy, you can contest those.”

To that end, the city worked with architecture firm Williams & Associates of Biloxi, and contacted FEMA to conduct another assessment of the fire station. 

“So in October, our documentation items were populated and have been sent to FEMA,” Jones said. “We have demonstrated by way of this architectural firm and construction costs of 85 percent of what it would cost to renovate that building.”