A blessing and dedication yesterday for the new Kaunakakai Fire Station represented the end of a long process in upgrading Molokai’s fire protection service.
It’s been 2-1/2 years since the project broke ground on five acres above the Molokai Education Center on Alanui Ka ‘Imi Ike Street.
But it’s been a lot longer when you consider that the original $10.5 million funding was appropriated in 2007. At the time, the bids came in over budget and the funding expired when it wasn’t used by the end of that year. The fire department returned to the Maui County Council for a new appropriation of $12.3 million in early 2008, enough to cover the higher construction costs.
The project hit another snag when the county started taking steps to separate the five acres it wanted to purchase from a larger parcel owned by Molokai Properties Ltd. The subdivision process set off a series of additional requirements and reviews, and the sale stalled in state land court.
Initial plans called for a new station consisting of six-vehicle bays, capacity to accommodate additional personnel, an emergency helipad and room for emergency medical service units.
The new station has the most advanced firefighting training facilities in Maui County and will rank among the top in the state. The building includes a large classroom for public safety training. Towers in the new station design will be used for rope rescue training, confined space training and ladder training.
The new facility replaces the one in Kaunakakai town built in 1978. That station did not have adequate space and also sat in a flood zone. The former location next to the Mitchell Pau’ole Center and across from the Kaunakakai Ballfield also created safety and delay issues with the pedestrian traffic.