For some 13 years, Liberty Volunteer Fire District, a state special fire district, has had on its wish list a new station to be situated in the southern portion of the district. But, alas, it never came about.
Around 2007 they began looking for land on which to build whenever they could afford to do it. Several plots of land were checked and rejected, for one reason or another, until finally a nearly five acre plot was located and the owners were contacted.
After negotiations, the land was purchased. It was located at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 90 and Woodyard Road/Beech Road. It was the former location of a couple of different motor hotels in the early to mid-20th century. It had several buildings still on the premises that would need to be cleared out in order to build. Ironically, the owners of the property also lived within the southern portion of the district.
Work began on the site by salvaging what could be salvaged and the remainder of the buildings were bulldozed. While all of this was happening, the fire board of the Liberty Fire District was attempting to find ways in which to finance a new station along with trying to decide just what type of station they would need.
Most of the population the district serves is located in the southern third of the fire district. City water service had been installed in most of the housing areas both north and south of U.S. Hwy. 90 and westward toward King Lake Road, the last north/south road in the fire district and near the western boundary of the district. A new station would better serve the entire population with a fast response time and the incentive of lower homeowners’ insurance.
Liberty continued checking on ways to finance a new station and finally found a series of grants that were opening up for new fire stations nationwide. The board agreed to submit applications for these grants to two organizations, hoping that one of them would be accepted.
The site had become “shovel-ready” for building, which meant district officials could start immediately with the project. Both of the requests ended up on the short list for approval and then it was just a waiting game.
Calls for further information came in and more information was sent forward. Then there was more waiting. Finally, tentative approval was given by both organizations, but both wanted more information. The district provided still more information, but one of the organizations did not act on it in a timely manner, so the board decided to work with the other to try and get the grant.
The cutoff date passed and it was decision time as to who the grants would be awarded too. Keeping watch online, the Liberty Fire Districts plan made it into the final round, before getting the good news.
By this time the board had tentative drawings for the proposed station and the associated costs. Realize here that the grants were for new fire stations nationwide, not just in Florida. Looking at the list of recipients, Liberty Fire Distrct was probably the smallest community to receive a grant.
Ground was broken and the building began Sept. 11, 2012. The contractor chosen for this project was Lord & Son Contracting of Fort Walton Beach. Over the development period many sub-contractors made their single or multiple appearances to offer their specialties. The work was scheduled to take 6 or 7 months, but with Mother Nature’s interference it lasted for 9 months.
On Friday, June 14, 2013, the project was deemed complete and turned over to Liberty Volunteer Fire District.
Liberty Volunteer Fire District would like to thank the contractor, Lord & Son, and all their sub-contractors, DeFuniak Springs Water Department, Walton County road crews and those who performed pre-build site work, and to Preble-Rish for overseeing the project. Liberty Fire can certainly be proud of the new station.