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Bethel firefighters set to move into new station Nov.22

After multiple delays but without exceeding its budget, the new fire station on Oakridge Road is ready.

Michael Laws, fire chief for Bethel Volunteer Fire Department, said he expects to hold a grand opening for the public in January. The new station sits behind the original Bethel station on Highway 557, where firefighters and vehicles remained during the almost yearlong construction. Planned move in was Nov. 22.

Laws looked forward to driving the trucks in, but also to showing off the station to the community once firefighters are settled.

“Hopefully they’ll be impressed by what their tax dollars paid for,” Laws said.

York County Council approved $2 million last year from the special tax district budget that funds the department. Completion date was May 26 this year, but delays pushed the opening back. Council approved $20,000 in contingency money and a 50-day extension when new soil was needed after a wet and snowy winter.

Then, when firefighters were ready to move in this summer, problems with the concrete cracking beneath the weight of the trucks surfaced. The builder and tax board held off on opening.

“They felt the concrete was not holding up the way it should,” Laws said.

Despite change orders, and with the builder assuming some costs, the project did not top the $2 million approved by Council, Laws said.

“We were actually able to come in at budget,” he said.

The new station took up a significant chunk of tax district money, so no large purchases sit on the horizon.

“There’s always something around the corner,” Laws said. “Right now the department has a good complement of response vehicles.”

Focus will shift to bolstering the ability of all three Bethel stations to respond similarly with trucks, equipment and volunteers.

“I want all our stations to have equal ability to respond,” Laws said.