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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.


Comment on this Story

  • Guest12345

    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.

  • Guesttoo

    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.

  • Boom BOOM

    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.

  • John Grimes

    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 http://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

  • Guest666

    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.

  • Yaqngie

    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.

  • Just the Facts

    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.

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