Federal government to fund new Laurel Bay fire station. Here’s where the $10M comes from

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Laurel Bay in Beaufort is getting $10 million to build a fire station, the Biden administration announced Friday.

Two years ago, with the goal of building a wall along the United States’ southern border, the Trump administration redirected billions of dollars that Congress provided for supporting American military personnel and their families, military infrastructure and vehicles, aircraft and ships, a news release said.

That meant the Beaufort County military community had to wait longer to renovate its derelict fire station at Laurel Bay, which no longer meets government safety and security requirements.

But the U.S. Department of Defense announced Friday that it was returning more than $2 billion in military construction funds to 66 previously deferred projects in 11 states, three territories and 16 countries.

Biden said on his first day in office that he was stopping all border wall construction and ordered agencies to come up with a plan for the funds.

Friday’s action will restore funds for on-base schools, hangars, housing, and essential operational and training facilities, including $10 million to construct the new fire station at Laurel Bay, according to an Office of Management and Budget Fact sheet about the funds.

Laurel Bay is a community for the families of service members stationed primarily at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

The fire station provides fire protection and emergency medical services to the Marines, sailors and civilians outside of the air station including those in Laurel Bay Housing. Another fire station provides coverage on the air station.

The existing fire station was built in 1959.

The Laurel Bay station is undersized for the current personnel, ambulance and paramedic squads and is not configured to respond to emergencies, the DOD said.

A 2018 U.S. Navy report said an updated fire station was critical to serve the 1,282 housing units, three schools, three family community centers, a child development center, a youth center, a shopping complex, a gas station and several administrative, maintenance and support facilities at Laurel Bay.

Construction of the new Laurel Bay fire station had been set to begin in April 2020. No timeline was given for when the restored funds would be released.

Darran Vaughn, Laurel Bay fire chief, was not available for comment Friday afternoon.

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