Dare County, in conjunction with the Town of Kill Devil Hills, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, for the new 36,000-square-foot facility that, once completed, will serve as Dare County EMS Station 1 as well as Kill Devil Hills Fire Department Station 14.
The new co-located facility, which will be constructed at 1630 N. Croatan Highway in Kill Devil Hills, is part of a multiphase project to improve and modernize numerous outdated EMS facilities throughout Dare County in order to better serve residents and visitors.
The ceremony kicked off with a welcome message from Town of Kill Devil Hills Assistant Town Manager Charlene Allen, which was followed by an opening prayer delivered by Kill Devil Hills Fire Chaplain Steve Siegrist, as well as a series of remarks from Town of Kill Devil Hills Mayor Ben Sproul, who shared what the co-located facility will mean to the community he serves.
We are entering into a new era, and I couldn’t be more excited about it,” said Sproul. “This building will soon be the home away from home to approximately 40 career, volunteer and support fire personnel who, as you all know, demonstrate acts of selflessness and dedication every day. It’s with great pride that I can say that this new fire station will be giving these men and women a more modernized and efficient place where they can continue to grow as a department and courageously answer our community’s calls for help.”
Sproul also expressed his appreciation for the Town of Kill Devil Hills’ partnership with Dare County and the integral role it has played in bringing the project to fruition.
“We are always working together, and partnerships are a huge part of what we do on the Outer Banks, and I am here to tell you that without Dare County working with us on this joint venture we would probably not be here today breaking ground,” said Sproul. “It would have taken us a good little while longer to get here, so we appreciate that partnership, and as we move forward together with the construction of this new facility, I know that our partnership will continue to strengthen.”
Sproul then turned over the podium to Dare County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Wally Overman, who highlighted the county’s ongoing efforts to improve and modernize EMS facilities throughout Dare County—and the way that EMS Station 1, in particular, plays a pivotal role due to its central location within the heavily populated Kill Devil Hills community.
Dare County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Wally Overman stands at a podium speaking to the crowd.
“Station 1 here in Kill Devil Hills serves as the primary hub for Dare County EMS and includes the department’s administrative offices as well as the training facility for EMS personnel,” said Overman. “Being located in one of the busiest areas of the entire county—the heart of Kill Devil Hills—personnel from Station 1 were dispatched to over 2,800 calls last calendar year, providing essential and often lifesaving services to Dare County residents, visitors and property owners. Station 1 is the busiest EMS station in the system.”
In addition to noting that the majority of Dare County’s EMS facilities were constructed several decades ago and have become outdated over the years, Overman also emphasized the importance of providing modernized facilities that will help first responders perform their duties more efficiently and effectively.
“The Dare County Board of Commissioners recognizes and appreciates the integral role that these essential members of our workforce play for the people of our community,” said Overman. “Improving these facilities and bringing them up to date with today’s technology is crucial, and it will make it possible for our first responders to better serve our residents and visitors. I can’t tell you how excited I am to start seeing this project come to life and how thrilled I am to be breaking ground this afternoon on a facility that will be a game-changer for our first responders operating out of EMS Station 1 and Kill Devil Hills Fire Department Station 14.”
During his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, Overman also thanked the Town of Kill Devil Hills for its partnership with Dare County for the project, as well as Barnhill Contracting Company and Oakley Collier Architects.
“In addition to our Dare County officials and representatives, I’d also like to thank the Town of Kill Devil Hills for partnering with the county,” he said. “In particular, I’d like to thank Mayor [Ben] Sproul and the Kill Devil Hills Board of Commissioners, including Mayor Pro Tem Ivy Ingram, Commissioners Terry Gray, John Windley and B.J. McAvoy, Town Manager Debbie Diaz, Assistant Town Manager Charlene Allen and, of course, [Kill Devil Hills Fire Department] Chief Troy Tilley. If it weren’t for our exceptional partnership with the town and all that each and every one of you have done to assist us along the way, this project truly would not be possible. And of course, I’d also like to extend my sincerest thanks and appreciation to the people who have worked to not only design this cutting-edge co-located facility where so many of our community’s essential workers will work side by side, but also those who will be building it brick by brick from the ground up.”
Overman’s comments were followed by remarks made by Dare County EMS Director Chief Jennie Collins, who emphasized the positive impact that the improved facility will have on the Dare County EMS department’s diverse workforce as well as the thousands of residents and visitors they serve each year.
“Why are these facilities so important to us? It’s where we maintain our readiness to serve the community,” said Collins. “They’re in service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They don’t close for holidays. They don’t close for storms when everybody else has to evacuate the island we are still here to provide that protection for.”
Collins also commented on the increased demands for service that have been placed on her department due to a significant rise in the number of calls for emergency response that have been placed in recent years thanks to an uptick in tourism and Dare County’s growing population of year-round residents.
“The EMS department has 136 full-time employees and about 30 part-time employees, and our system-wide call volume was just shy last year of 9,800 calls, with 2,800 of those run from [EMS] Station 1,” said Collins. “This year, system-wide, we are expecting to break 10,000 calls. We need a much higher level of functionality and efficiency and to incorporate the new technology that is available. Over the coming months, it is exciting to see the project underway and the building coming to life. We cannot wait to move into it. This new station will represent the continued mission of our proud legacy of both departments—both the EMS Department and the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department, the legacy of serving the community.”
Once completed in the spring of 2024, the new Dare County EMS Station 1 will feature an array of advancements and features, including new technology that will keep carcinogens from the vehicle bays out of the crew members’ living areas located within the facility, larger storage areas to house supplies ranging from personnel uniforms to medical equipment, and significantly improved living quarters and sleeping areas for on-duty staff members, among many other improvements.
Following Collins’ remarks, Kill Devil Hills Fire Department Chief Troy Tilley took to the podium to share how an updated and improved facility will benefit his crew members that operate out of Kill Devil Hills Fire Department Station 14, as well as the members of the community they protect and serve.
“This new fire station will house a dedicated team of firefighters that are prepared to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to the emergency response needs of our community no matter what that situation is or the weather conditions. Snow, rain, ice, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, Kill Devil Hills Fire is here for our community,” said Tilley, who noted that the new station will feature a designated decontamination room for equipment and personnel, a physical fitness area, a training room for current and future firefighters, and areas where firefighters can get much-needed rest and nourishment when they’re serving a 24-hour shift at the facility.
“The overall goal is to support our ability to respond to our community and keep our firefighters healthy and prepared in order to serve and respond to the emergency responses,” Tilley continued. “This groundbreaking of a new fire station is a monumental moment for the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department as we ensure we have a firm foundation for our department so that we have the ability to continually respond to the needs of our community well into the future, and I’m looking forward to that future.”
At the conclusion of Tilley’s remarks, Dare County EMS Chaplain Cherri Wheeler led a closing a prayer, and officials from Dare County, the Town of Kill Devil Hills and the Kill Devil Hills Fire Department—as well as representatives of Barnhill Contracting Company and Oakley Collier Architects—were invited to officially break ground on the site of the new Dare County EMS Station 1 and Kill Devil Hills Fire Department Station 14 facility.