Construction bid to be chosen for burn building

COVINGTON — A fire training facility burn building to be used by Newton County Fire Service and the Covington Fire Department has moved one step closer to construction.

The Covington City Council selected one of the four companies who submitted bids for the project at Monday’s meeting. Staff recommended Sunbelt Builders with the lowest bid of $508,199. Other companies that submitted bids were Beatty Construction, Lovorn Construction and Kevin Price General Contractors.

The burn building is set to be completed in six months, according to Covington Fire Chief John McNeil. He hopes once the building is completed in December the entire training facility will be operational by the spring.

The county and city are splitting the estimated $1.5 million construction cost of the training facility, which includes the burn building for live fire training and a four-story tower for repelling and simulation of high rise situations, as well as a course for driver training.

McNeil said the driving course is already completed and the next step is to build the training pavilion where there will be restrooms, storage and a meeting place.

“This will be a tremendous asset for both the city and county. We currently respond to fires out in the county and they respond to fires in the city. So now we will not only respond together, we can train together,” McNeil said. “We will become a much more effective department because of this training facility.”

The project is now being built on Piper Road off Ga. Highway 36 after the original location on a 15-acre site near Covington Municipal Airport was discouraged because of the hazard smoke could cause for pilots in the vicinity.

“We’ve had a number of obstacles over the years, but our goal is to be finished with the project this fiscal year and begin training by late spring,” McNeil said.