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ONLY ON 3: $2M Leland fire station sits empty, seldom used

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: $2M Leland fire station sits empty, seldom used
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LELAND, NC (WWAY) -- A shiny new fire station sits on NC 133 in Leland. It actually opened as a fire-police-rescue station nearly four years ago, but there is not much going on there.

"The station is not manned from a police or fire standpoint, either one, and a lot of that has to do with the economy being what it is," Leland Fire Chief John Grimes said.

Grimes admits the fire station is relatively empty. That was not the plan when it opened in February 2008.

"It is set up that whatever point the economy comes back around and the funding comes back enough to we can place career personnel in that station," Grimes said.

Grimes says the department gets money from fire fees homeowners pay annually. New construction adds to that fund, but without new homes being built the money just isn't there. So why build it in the first place?

"The town did some annexation and determined they needed to provide some additional fire protection," Leland Town Manager Bill Farris said.

Chief Grimes says the fire station was necessary to improve Leland's fire rating from a seven to a six.

The land was donated, but even so, there's a $2.2 million fire station with two engines not being used that often.

"It's very easy to justify," Grimes said. "I can speak personally for myself, the change from a seven to a six was $200 for me. If you looked at how many homes are in the Leland area that was covered by that station, I can guarantee you that those monies, in one year, would come really close to paying that station and those engines, and we're talking three years now. It's already paid for itself in savings to the taxpayers."

It's estimated it would cost about $450,000 a year to fully staff the fire station. The fire department says it does not have that kind of cash, and unless the town pays it, it looks like the station will remain empty at least until the economy turns back around.

Chief Grimes says his department does use the fire station to run its junior programs. Plus, it was staffed with paramedics and firefighters during Hurricane Irene, which is the plan during times of natural disasters.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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fire department

well first of all i would like to say i have been in the fire service before an i am not downing no one but having a new building has nothing to do with a rating i have known fire depatments to have the same building for 30yrs an the building was falling apart an they have dropped their rating from a 10 to 5 an 4 's your rating has to do with alot, your members your calls,how long it takes you to get to each call your manpower your mutialaid your equipment on your trucks if you have the correct trucks to cover what it needs to cover an some other things,an people dont know this they only go buy what is said to them i could tell anyone that building a 6 highway road would lower car insurance an how many people do you think would believe it "alot" but what i dont understand is each fire dept has a budget a set budget for each year which may run a little diffrent each year so why would you build something that you cannot run you cant blame that on the economy because the fire dept still get money weather or not people pay that fire fee now if people pay their fire fee/taxes late the fire dept will be sent that money.which they could have went with something smaller that wouldnot cost so much to run i just see it like this you dont have to have a high class building to run a fire dept an thats what alot of these fire depts do their heads get swelled an they try an out do one another, what runs a fire dept is the men an woman that devote their time an energy to run it.

Here chew on this

1. This fire station is not the station that lowered the rates to a six it was the station located at Lanvale and highway17.
2. The land was donated by the Westport developer he got a big tax break while the town got a piece of property for free, (NOT) there are 110 piles holding up the foundation, why because management never checked with BI to determine if the site was feasible for construction before committing thousands of tax payers dollars to the project.
3. Bill Farris and his crew worked for months on the Lanvale site and proposed to the council an architectural rendition of the second fire station at a Price tag of 1.1 million or more after spending countless hour and resources in development.
4. The council having contacted the BI department rejected the second proposal. And ask why so many resources were spent on trying to build a second fire station ,
5. Bill Farris who was upset then told BI to design specifications for the new building, also put a public works section in and they had roughly 375k to achieve this.
6. The BI department design the specs, coordinated with engineers’ managed the project and brought a PUBLIC WORKS and FIRE SUBSTATION into operation.
7. The addition of the new homes in Brunswick Forest would have driven the Insurance rates up had this not been done.
8. Bill Farris never acknowledged that it was BI who developed a cheap alternative and useful fire station for the Town of Leland.
9. The fire station on 133 also has elaborate large screen TVs a workout area sleeping quarters a Large kitchen area and many extras, also 2 areas that were designed for police and others for Fire and Rescue
10. Had the same common sense been applied at the 133 site that was applied to the Lanvale site the town could have saved 1.7 million Dollars.
11. Now you are building an unnecessary Town Hall. I challenge the citizens to go look at the facilities, you have three employees occupying 1200 square foot building.
12. You have offices unoccupied in the existing building.
13. Their have been over a Half million dollars spent on renovation since Bill Farris was hired there have been relocations and movement of some departments 3 times in 5 years, none of which were feasible or productive all at the expense of tax payers.
Each area that has been annexed impacted the ISO rating, but none required a 2.2 million investment to lower the rates, none required additional, large screen TVs ,or sleeping areas, Full Kitchenette or locker rooms, this is a satellite station none required workout rooms and office space. The large recliners are a real benefit without them and the couches we probably would still be at an 8.

Let me say that the fire department has don a fine job and advised accordingly, they are courageous and mindful of their duties, they provided input but are not responsible for the 2.2 million hole that this elaborate structure cause in the budget. The fire chief explained the rules and the town went overboard period.

Fire Station

My name is John Grimes and I am the Chief of Leland Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department, Inc.

My phone number is 910-371-2727
My email address is john.grimes@lelandfirerescue.com
Our website is www.lelandfirerescue.com

I am available to answer any question that I can legally answer during the hours of 9a-5p Mon-Fri. If the story did not answer your questions then please feel free to call the station and ask. There is no need to hide behind "alias", "guest", or "anonymous". You are a tax payer and are entitled to the truth. No spin No manipulation just the facts. Call me or email me at your convenience. If you would like to meet with me call and schedule a meeting.

I would also add that I am amazed and honored to serve where I do. LVFRD has some of the best career and volunteer staff in the country. They work hard to make this department and the community as good as it is. If you want to slander continue on but do not attack the hard work that they do. Attack me if you will but not them.

Thank you and God Bless
John Grimes
Chief

I have always wondered why

I have always wondered why the station was built so far from Leland. Did someone have some property they needed to unload at a huge price, or a big writeoff? Did they have a buddy connected with Leland who received a kickback? I guess the Leland Police could do some paintball practice inside if they don't use it for anything else.

MHmm

So what your telling me is that the fire rating for insurance went down a point for a station that is not even manned 24/7. Wonder if the state knows about this and well if they did not Im sure they will now.
As a residence of Leland, I'm a lil pissed frankly. Now might cost might go up and thats a problem in this economy. That and we might not have adequite fire cover if my house catchs on fire.

Now I heard rumor of volunteers so is there? If so why did WWAY not mention this. I have fire training and EMS background and if this were a volunteer base I would love to donate my time to assist.

Don't Blame the FD

First off I would like to say that I am not a member of the Leland Fire Department, however, I do have a strong knowledge of this particular situation. I have read this story and all the comments, and there is alot more to this story than what has been said. First off Mr. Farris is not going to say anything that is going to portray the Town of Leland in a bad way, and Chief Grimes can make factual statements (which he has) but has to be cautious of creating an adversarial relationship between the Town and the Fire Department.
The true story is that when all the developers were asking the Town of Leland to annex theit neighborhoods into the town, several (Mallory Creek, Westport, Brunswick Forest, Stoney Creek, Snee Farms, Grayson Park and portions of Magnolia Greens and Waterford) were located more than the allowed distance from the Leland Fire Department and therefore the residents in these areas were going to be classified as a 10 on the Rating Response Schedule (RRS) through the North Carolina Department of Insurance, this would have the same effect as not having any fire protection and would cause the homeowners annual fire inurance premiums to go up dramatically (just ask any insurance agent what the difference between a rating of 6 and 10 is and you will see the significance of this). This situation was created by the then seated Leland Town Council, not the fire department. The town had to make a decision on whether to let a large portion of their residents be moved to a class 10 rating or to fix the situation that they created by investing in the fire department in the way of buildings and fire trucks, which they did and as a resident of one of the above mentioned neighborhoods, I am glad that they did. There are numerous departments within the region that operate either as totally volunteer or in some fashion of combination career and volunteer and do not have their stations manned at all times if at all, some of them have stations that are larger and cost more that the Leland station from this news report, however, I don't see stories concerning their operations (Southport, Tri-Beach, BSL). Would I like to see the station manned by career personnel at some point? Yes, I think it was built with that concept in mind and as the area begins to grow again, it will be manned. Do I understand the economy has restricted this fire department's growth as well as most fire departments within the area? Yes, Leland along with most of the fire departments in the area have been restricted in growth due to the changing economy. Would I rather see the current staff split so that their is someone at the station? No, I think letting the volunteers from this area respond to the Westport station to suplement the full crew that is coming on the other engine makes sense and lets them bring a fully functioning crew to all calls within the district.
As for the cost of the station, yes a cheaper station could have been built, however, when the land is donated by a developer of one of the communities, you have to meet the architectural requirements that go along with that community and why build a station that meets todays minimal requirements of just housing trucks when it is a known fact that the area will see growth that will require the career personnel in the future. And as for the BSL fireman and the others who are making negative comments regarding a rating of 6 for the Leland Fire Rescue Department, your comments go to show your lack of understanding of how the RRS system works. If Leland did not have a large commercial density and was strictly houses such as BSL, then they would most likely have a rating of 4 like BSL and with the current stations and equipment, would probably have a 2 or a 3. However, when you add the commercial businesses, multiple industrial parks and large churches to the mix, a rating of 6 is a good rating and I am sure that if any of the departments had anything close to the amount of commercial density that Leland has and answered the number of calls that are reviewed in the RRS, they would be happy and gracious to have a rating of 6.
Leland Fire is a good deparment, yes they have struggled over the years, but at this time, they have a good career program and a strong volunteer base for both the Fire and EMS divisions of their department and I am happy to have them protect me and my family.

Thanks!

Thank you for a reasonable, fact-based post.

Where does Belville get their fire protection from and what is their RSS rating?

An access road between Hwy's 133 and 17 would do a lot to help response times, share resources and enhance the safety of the area.

Now that the Leland police

Now that the Leland police have disbanded due to corruption what makes you think the fire station is any different

Boiling Spring Lakes built

Boiling Spring Lakes built station three (3) for less than $240,000. The intrinsic value of this station not only enhanced their response times but was fully staffed with dedicated volunteers. Thus, money and fancy fire stations do not help the taxpaying community. Expedient and dedicated volunteers, however, do. By the way, Boiling Spring Lakes Fire has an ISO rating of four (4). You decide. A two-million dollar building to house fire trucks? Give all of us a break and quit pretending we are morons, John.

My name is Chris Grace and I

My name is Chris Grace and I am the Chief of Boiling Spring Lakes Fire Rescue. I want to clear the air on the last comment from BSL414. I just pulled my roster from the last 5 years. 414 is NO LONGER A MEMBER here at BSL. He has been gone for 3 yrs. He has NO right to make a comment on the Leland Fire Station. What the Leland Dept does is there business,not ours. Leland Fire is a very well run Dept and these comments from a former member from here is uncalled for. I WILL find this guy and I WILL speak my peace. On behalf of the BSLFR Dept I apoligize to John Grimes and his staff.....

You'll not find me on a

You'll not find me on a roster unless you look 10 years in the past. I hope you haven't persecuted others is your attempt to apologize to Chief Grimes.

2.2 million

2.2 million, if introduced in the economy say in the community; would bring people, jobs,homes, then fire stations.

cart before the mule

When the Hwy 133 fire dept

When the Hwy 133 fire dept opened its doors in early 2008, it was during the unforseen end of the building boom. Had the economy stayed strong and building continued, there would not be a question of if that fire station is needed. Leland's population (13,000+) requires a second fire station. Unfortunately, the money to man the station is not there...right now.

I don't see where this story is newsworthy. It's not like they just built the station within the past few months. Then it would be questionable.

WWAY, please stay on your side of the river and quit creating negative stories of our town and other surrounding communities. Why don't you report about the money wasted on the new convention center instead.

Leland

Great story WWAY. I drive by there a few times a week and always wonder why that station seems empty.

What's new with Leland Police Department? Personally, I haven't seen anything else on the SBI Investigation on your site.

Leland Fire Station Sitting Empty

Thanks WWAY for covering this story, but know there is much more to this than the town manager or Chief Grimes is talking about. The station was planned for and approved by the Town of Leland officials, but let it first be known; Chief John Grimes isn't a town employee. In fact, the Leland Fire Department isn't a town-owned or town-administered fire department. The department is a combination fire-rescue-ems department consisting of mostly volunteers and some paid-personnel, which includes Chief Grimes. The Town of Leland augments their budget, but the department and it's staff are wholly commanded and administered by Chief Grimes. The majority of the apparatus (or the fire trucks)were purchased by the town, as were the ambulances used by their emergency medical division. The new fire stations (yes there is another new station, although it wasn't discussed in the news story) were built and paid for by loans secured by the Town of Leland, making them town-owned facilities. The station in your story is on Highway 133 and the other station in located on Lanvale Road off of Highway 17 South near Brunswick Forest. That station isn't staffed either. Ask Town Manager Farris and Chief Grimes about that station and see the answers you get. The main things you need to ask; How did the town qualify for a reduced insurance rating from the North Carolina Department of Insurance - Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) when their stations aren't staffed 24-hours a day? What are the response times to the areas served by those stations? Are there qualified volunteers living close by to staff those stations or does the primary fire, rescue, and emergency medical responses for those areas come from the main station located on Village Drive (north of Highway 17)?

The town does have a responsibility to provide services to annexed areas, but are they providing EQUAL services that are being provided to other areas of town? The answer is a clear and resounding NO! Ask Mr. Farris if there are plans for the town to take over the day-to-day administration of the fire department as a town-administered department so they can better manage this department and it's personnel? Where did all the tax-monies go to build the stations, buy the apparatus, and run the department? It is a large amount of money to be spent on personnel, but what is the price of protecting the taxpayers, and VOTERS? The citizens of Leland and the surrounding service-area deserve better from their town administration and their fire department. What they really deserve right now is the truth and they didn't get that portrayed in this story. Tell the truth and make the necessary changes before someone is needlessly and seriously injured, property is needlessly lost, or God forbid, someone looses their life.

"Only on 3"

Dear "Only on 3"
Have you ever wondered why most of your stories are "only on 3"? It is because they are not news worthy and mostly out to trash people. Such as this story is an attempt to trash Leland Fire/Rescue.
If you want to report news about Leland Fire/Rescue, why don't you write about how many fire/EMS calls they have answered this year? Or how about all the services they provide to the community? Or the time they spent at Bellville Elementary School for Fire Prevention Week? Or their presence at every home football game North Brunswick High School plays? Or how many times Leland Fire/Rescue performs mutual aid for New Hanover County.
I'm certain you will NOT have an "only on 3" news story when funding is available to open this station, again, because it would be information actually news worthy.
And for the record, I read WWAY.COM for entertainment purposes, not the actual news.

LOL

What do you want? A cookie for doing YOUR JOB? WWAY is talking about TAX DOLLAR WASTE here..not what you do! If you want to do something...bring that 6 down to a 3 or 4! NOW GET OUT AND DO YOUR JOB!

Kudos to Leland Fire Dept

As a Leland resident, I did notice my homeowners insurance decrease dramatically in the last few years. Thank you Chief Grimes and the dedicated men and women of Leland FireRescue.

While

your homeowners insurance went down..a SIX isn't anything to brag about!

A SIX is worth bragging

A SIX is worth bragging about over a SEVEN. In my case it's $265 worth of bragging. I work in insurance. The next lowest price drop is a FIVE and then that's it. Wilmington likes to brag about their TWO but there is no price break for anything less than a FIVE. Thats why Monkey Junction is fighting annexation from Wilmington. Wilmington claims their rates will drop but its been proven that they wont.

Actually

that isn't true...I got a break when my FD went to a 3...

You are absolutely correct

You are absolutely correct that any rating lower than a 5 only affects commercial properties and that a home whether it is a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 will pay the same for the fire portion of the homeowners insurance. You stated the difference in a 6 and a 7 for your insurance, since you work in the insurance field, what would your difference have been from a 6 to a 10, that is what alot of residents would have been paying if this and the other station whad not been built and the fire trucks purchased to fix the issue the town created. Kuddos to you for setting the record straight concerning the class 6 rating!

Many years ago, before

Many years ago, before Leland was a 7, it was a 9. So when it dropped from a 9 to a 7 at that time, my insurance dropped approximately (if I can remember correctly) $400 if not slightly more. Overall, going from a 9 to a 6, I've saved closed to $700 a year. That is a hugh savings! I think Leland VFD is doing a great job and should be commended and not berated over a semi-empty fire house. They are doing the best that they can.

While there have been legit issues in Leland

This isnt one of them. True the station isnt manned 24/7 but it does have the ability for volunteer crews to still come to the station and respond if necessary especially in cases of Mutual Aide towards BSL.. I think you'll find the station and apparatus do get used. If Leland Fire/Rescue is smart they are rotating the pumpers between the main station on Village Road and the satellite station on River Road (same road different names) if for no other reason then to balance the wear and tear on the apparatus. THe truth is the need is definitely there hypothetically a structure fire at the Nursing Home not too far from there would likely still get a response from volunteers near the station sooner then the single staffed engine on the other side of the town of Leland. As for why the station isnt being utilized by BCSO or Leland PD is beyond me. The facility is perfectly functional and to me makes more sense then the little cubbyhole they sometimes utilize at Walmart that puts Leland PD on the far end of their jurisdiction compared to the combination facility on River Road