It is moldy, cramped and has been an ongoing battle for the past three years; Wrightsville Beach Fire and Police departments say they need a new public safety building, and the town needs to act now. But the Board of Aldermen is not so sure. The building used to be an old warehouse, but for the past 25 years it has been home to the Wrightsville Beach Fire Department. “It was never designed to function as a fire station," said Wrightsville Beach Fire Chief, Frank Smith. In the eighties, the firefighters worked to transform it into a space suitable for fire trucks and equipment. Twenty-five years later the facility has a lot of problems; size is just one of them. Chief Smith said, "We are not talking about cosmetic issues, we are talking about functional issues and that the facility is just too small." Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death among fire fighters in the line of duty, so in order to stay fit, the full time fire fighters exercise inside the station. But the problem is, there is not a lot of space, so they have to move a truck just to make some extra room. A few years back, the fire department had to vacate the upstairs of the building. It was filled with mold and mildew. Now, they use modular units to make up for the lost space. "Throwing good money into a bad mold problem that just wouldn't go away," Smith said. For the past three years, the town has been working to propose a new public safety building for the police and fire departments. Some board members and residents say now is not the right time, especially since the new building will mean a 1.5 to 2 cent tax increase for residents. But Chief Smith and Mayor Stephen Walen both agree a new facility is imperative to keeping the beach safe. "We can do it now, and enjoy some favorable pricing on the construction and pricing of the building, or we can procrastinate," said Mayor Stephen Walen. The mayor tabled the project in last week's meeting after hearing concerns from the Board of Aldermen. Mayor Walen hopes to re-address the issue in their meeting at the end of the month.
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