A variety of in-house skills bring Fire station #2 expansion to life

NEMiss.News Eric Thomas, Code Enforcement Officer
New Albany Code Enforcement Officer Eric Thomas wears many hats in city government operations, most recently as the de facto general contractor for the new addition to Fire Station #2, which is nearing completion.
September 14th, 2021     Featured News General News



The New Albany Fire Department (NAFD) needed more room at Fire Station #2 on Denton Road, but faced obstacles in getting the additional space constructed.

First there was the cost of building materials, which has skyrocketed during the second year of the COVID pandemic. The second hurdle was that skilled construction management and labor is also in short supply. In the building trades, almost everybody who is good at something right now has more work than they can handle. Contractors and subcontractors for jobs of all sizes are quoting completion dates many months in the future.

Several people already working for the city offered their skills in turning the idea of the new 30 x 60 foot addition into a reality – and at considerable savings to local taxpayers.

Fire Chief Mark Whiteside said NAFD fireman Josh Self had the computer equipment, software and skills to do the drawing for the new structure. Self created the detailed drawings and specifications for the new building addition. Whiteside said every fireman in the department had the opportunity to give input for ideas for the new addition.

Assistant Fire Chief Mark Sides, who had building trades experience, took on the task of assembling materials for the new addition. Sides “did the legwork” to acquire needed materials at the best available price.

New Albany Code Enforcement Officer Eric Thomas was recruited to his current position in 2015 following a long career in the building trades. Thomas’s experience includes work in plumbing, electrical work, HVAC and work for major general contractors. Immediately before coming to work of the city Thomas was a manager with JESCO, an “ENR Top 25” construction company headquartered in Tupelo, for nine years.

Thomas took over a city code enforcement operation, which had had a great many problems. It would be an understatement to say the professional code enforcement operation New Albany has today bears little similarity to the one Thomas found when he moved into his office at city hall.

Additionally, because of his computer skills, Thomas has become a sort of multipurpose “techie” for other city government functions.

Finally, Thomas is a trained fireman, a volunteer with the NAFD.

Thence, he took on the role of general contractor for the addition to Fire Station #2, selecting and overseeing the work of the various building trades doing the work on the new addition.

The new addition on the west side of Fire Station #2 is 30 x 60 feet, 1,800 square feet. A second story of approximately 1,350 square feet will be left semi-finished for the present time, but will be available for future needs.

The ground floor of the new addition includes socially distanced sleeping space for up to six firefighters, restrooms and showers, an exercise room and a safe room.

Completion is anticipated within weeks.





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