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WMFR approves Station 1 remodel

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Despite an objection by West Manatee Fire Rescue district board member Scott Ricci, other board members at the March 17 meeting approved a preliminary budget estimate of $279,846 from contractor Ross Built Construction of Holmes Beach to proceed with plans to remodel Station No. 1.

Ricci was not opposed to remodeling Station No. 1, but objected to the $70,000 cost to install a sprinkler system at the station.

“If there is any place on Anna Maria Island that’s safe from fire deaths, it’s that building,” he said.

WMFR board chair Larry Tyler pointed out that the initiative to require all new construction to have a sprinkler system installed came from the board several years ago.

Fine, noted Ricci, “but I just think that’s money that could better be spent elsewhere.”

WMFR Chief Andy Price said if the sprinklers were not installed, contractor Ross Built Inc. would be required to include fire-retardant material for the walls and ceilings to meet the fire code. That would cost about $5,000 more than the sprinklers, he said.

Ricci suggested taking the sprinkler system out of the proposal for now and examining it further, but Greg Ross of Ross Built said if the project were split into two phases, that would add to the total project cost.

In addition to the sprinkler system, the proposed budget calls for replacement of the air-conditioning system along with new ducts, insulation, ceilings and the old fire alarm system. It also includes reconfiguration of several rooms to gain storage and living space.

The preliminary budget called for $59,000 to remodel the station, $151,314 for maintenance and $69,442 for the sprinkler system.

Price said he was confident the contractor would return with a lower cost estimate.

“We figured high on this and I truly expect the guaranteed maximum price will be less.”

With the 4-1 board approval of the budget proposal, Price said Ross Built would now obtain bids from sub-contractors and come back to the board with a guaranteed maximum price.

The project was not bid by contractors, but awarded through a request for proposals by the board.

Price said this is a “design-and-build” project, based on a 2009 report by a Sarasota company that listed what repairs and renovations were needed at all WMFR facilities.

In other WMFR business, Price announced a “plant party” in April at the new administration building on Third Avenue in Bradenton that will begin with landscaping of the grounds and vacant adjacent land purchased by the WMFR when it bought the former medical office in 2010.

Price also advised board members of a planned burn on 13 acres of vacant property adjacent to DeSoto National Memorial park in the near future, but he did not yet have a date.

That’s because the burn can only take place when the winds are out of the south or southwest to protect two houses in the area, he said.

The next board meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, at the WMFR administration building, 6417 Third Ave. N., Bradenton.

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