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Dirt turnedGainesville Regional Airport will be getting a new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) building in 2017. Officials and guests had a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, January 5th. The new building will be in a new location adjacent to the Air Traffic Control tower on the south side of the main runway and taxiway.

The existing station building of 5,600 square feet was built in 1979. While the building has served the airport well, it was not designed with space or facilities for washing and drying protective equipment and efficiently drying hoses. There are no overhead lift facilities to assist with loading agent or transferring equipment to minimize the chance of injury. Over the years, ARFF vehicles of the same agent capacity have gotten taller and wider.

GNV’s Master Plan update examined the feasibility of renovating the existing ARFF building versus construction of a new building. It was determined that the current site was not optimal and renovation costs, including temporary facilities during construction, would be cost prohibitive.

The chosen site offers improved views and response to the main commercial runway, improved access to the commercial terminal, good access to an existing service road and utilities. The 8,700 square foot building will accommodate the wider fire trucks as well as add training space and more equipment storage.

The estimate on costs for the project, including construction, utility upgrades, access roads and demolition of the old structure is approximately $3.8 million. The project is covered by FAA Airport Improvement (AIP) grants, both entitlement and discretionary. Local match is approximately $300,000. Construction will be led by Scherer Construction and is expected to last about ten months.