The Board of County Commissioners approved a $789,500 project for the construction of a new Bagdad Volunteer Fire Department building.

Chief Nick Anderson says the department has been operating in their current building on Oak Street in Bagdad since its construction in 1962.

"There's a lot of history here," Anderson said. "I've been here 21 years."

Over the years, structural additions have been built to keep up with the area's demands. As the community grew in population, so did the fire department and their fleet. Making the existing building bigger has not worked out because adding to the aging brick and mortar is difficult, according to the chief.

"It was built before there were building codes," Anderson said. "It cost more with upgrading this building. We've had to dig up the floor, because of tree stumps that were rotting and caving in the concrete."

 The department faced limitations with future expansion because of trees surrounding the current facility.

"We're trying to hang on, but we have a lot of those water oaks," Anderson said. "The wrath of Khan falls down hard if you start cutting those down."

The current facility was expanded to roughly 3,500 square feet—with three closed bays and three open bays for vehicles. The department has two 1,000 gallon pumping trucks, two support trucks and a 17.5 foot boat.

The housing bays are smaller than current, standard-sized fire trucks. So the department ordered its last three trucks smaller to fit. Anderson says they lost height and length on the trucks by conforming to a smaller size, limiting storage space for equipment and tools.

The department definitely will have more room in the new 7,000 square feet facility to be located about one-and-a-half miles south of the current station on Windwood Lane—off of Garcon Pt. Rd. in Bagdad. The plan features two drive-through bays for four vehicles; office space; recreational space; storage; and a training area that will seat 35 persons.

 "It's turning out to be a nice facility," Anderson said. "We're excited."

 The project has been a work in progress for the past two years, beginning with the search for new property and working on a floor plan. Anderson says the late Chief Claude Dunlap Jr. was involved in the design phase before he passed in March of 2011.

The construction company A. E. New, Inc., Pensacola offered the lowest bid and was awarded the contract to begin construction—expected to be completed by the end of 2013, or early next year.

Until then, the Bagdad Volunteer Fire Department will be working from familiar grounds.

"Over the years, we've done a lot to the place," Anderson said. "And just like school, we'll miss the good old days."