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Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Rescue moves forward with headquarters

(WDBJ)
Published: May. 31, 2020 at 12:04 PM EDT
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It's taken over three years of planning and many special use permits, and there are several more projects to go before Smith Mountain Lake Volunteer Fire/Rescue has a permanent structure next to the Oak Grove boat launch, but progress is being made.

"We put those signs up a couple of weeks ago," said President Neil Harrington, passing by the 6 acres of land that will be used for the new headquarters. It sits right next to the U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary. Currently, SML Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue does not have a headquarters.

"I mean the whole development was going to cost $5.4 million, we couldn't possibly afford it; we scaled back to just the headquarters building itself, which would allow us to have administrative office space, maybe some meeting area for the community as well as some office space for the game wardens and AEP," said Harrington.

The cost will be just over a million dollars and it is being self-raised by the department. The biggest asset, according to Harrington, will be the storage space of extra rescue and emergency materials.

"When we have a call and we need our hazmat gear, or we need more foam or dive gear, we have to send someone in a vehicle to one of our storage units, to dig it out of storage, and bring it to someplace on the lake where we can put it on a fire boat and run that fire boat out to the scene," said Harrington.

That means a quicker response time. And while emergency materials like boom needed for oil spills aren't needed everyday, the couple of times a season they are needed, it helps to have them close by.

"We carry a small amount of boom and pads on the boat so we can respond to smaller events, but then we have to schedule the larger events," said Harrington.

Last week, the last special use permit was acquired, but the timeline is still a little murky for completion of headquarters. The goal is by the end of the year.

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