The town of Harrisburg recently held the grand opening of its new Public Safety Complex, an administrative building for emergency responders constructed in response to growing needs in a growing community.
The complex, located beside the fire station on Morehead Road, houses the Harrisburg Fire Department administration, as well as deputies from the Cabarrus County Sheriff's Office.
"As the community grows, the fire department is going to grow," said Bryan Dunn, Harrisburg fire chief.
Between April 2000 and July 2008, the Harrisburg population grew by nearly 38 percent. The number of incidents to which firefighters must respond has increased by about 10 percent each year for the last five years, Dunn said.
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As a result of population growth in Harrisburg and the increased need for emergency responders, the Harrisburg Fire Department, which had previously been a volunteer organization, came under the auspices of the town as a municipal department in 2006.
Now the department has 29 full-time employees, including 24 firefighters. As the department grew, so did the need for more space, Dunn said.
Construction began in June, and the building was completed about four months later. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held in December.
The new 3,800-square-foot building has nine offices, a conference room and a training room where firefighters can meet for safety classes.
Dunn said having all the administration under one roof allows for improved efficiency. The conference room provides them a space to meet with citizens.
The department's fire administration had been housed in the 23-year-old fire station on Morehead Road, where Dunn said employees were cramped. The department also leased space in a building across the street from their current location.
Harrisburg Fire Marshal David Montague worked out of the leased space. Montague, who performs fire inspections and investigations, said communication within the department will benefit from having a shared space.
"It was the next step for us," he said.
No new taxes
The building project, which cost about $493,000, spanned two budget years. About half of the building's costs came from Harrisburg's 2009 fiscal year budget, and the other half came from 2010's budget.
"It was difficult to cut expenses this deeply to make it happen, but it has finally come to fruition, and I am very excited at our success," said Michele Reapsmith, Harrisburg finance director, in an e-mail to the Cabarrus News.
By spreading the cost over two budget years, the town avoided raising taxes to cover the cost of the new building, she said.
The Harrisburg Fire Department has two stations in the town: the one on Morehead Road and another on Rocky River Road.
The department purchased more land on Rocky River Road, and although officials don't have immediate plans to build a new station, the department's long-term goal is to use the land to expand services.