FLORENCE, S.C. – A dedication and ribbon cutting for the new Aircraft Rescue and Firefight Station at the Florence Regional Airport was held on Wednesday afternoon. The event was hosted by the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce and FBI Construction.
Chamber ambassadors, elected officials, community leaders and staff at the station joined in the celebration of their joining the chamber and dedicating the building.
Florence Regional Airport executive director Connie Anderson welcomed visitors at the dedication. She said the station was a long time in coming and the idea was started with the men and women in the public safety office. She said it was first a dream. Then it was envisioned as the facility that became a reality.
Anderson said it took roughly two and half years to build at a cost of $4.75 million.
The facility opened last October.
“A lot of people stepped up and went to bat for us” to make this possible, Anderson said.
Anderson said the airport didn’t have the money but had the resources to obtain that amount of money. She said approximately 90 percent of the funds came from the FAA, 5 percent from the state and 5 percent from the airport.
The building was constructed by FBI Construction.
She said some people have questioned why the airport needed such a large facility.
“We don’t plan to stay small,” she said. “We plan to grow.”
She said the new facility will allow the airport to purchase and house larger equipment needed for growth.
“We want to be able to help meet the needs of our surrounding communities,” she said. “We are a regional airport.”
Anderson said the new facility is a tremendous asset to the airport.
“It opens a lot of opportunities for us,” she said.
The station at full capacity has eight employees.
Public Safety Chief Robert Norton said his department is responsible for the police and fire protection at the airport. He has been with the department for about 15 years.
He said they answer a lot more calls on the police side than the fire side.
“We don’t want calls from the fire side,” he said, because that would mean "there was something bad wrong.”
Coming from the cramped facility of the past, Norton said, “It feels great to be here.”
“We are glad that we can be a whole lot safer for our traveling public,” he said. “And we are at a level where we need to be.”