FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A brand new $4.9 million emergency management operation center is taking shape in Florence County.
The upcoming facility will replace the current building employees have used since 1992.
Officials with Florence County Emergency Management said the more than 12,000-square-foot facility will house the 911 dispatch center, emergency operations center and administration offices. Currently, those offices are in separate locations.
Between the more than 50,000 911 calls in 2016 and the development happening in Florence County, the time to expand is now.
"Florence County is going to continue to grow," said Dusty Owens emergency management director. "Our population will continue to increase, industry will come into the area and that's going to bring more people, consequently more 911 calls, and eventually there will have to be additional staff brought in to handle that need."
The project is being funded by the penny sales tax that Florence County citizens voted to pass.
Owens said the location for the new emergency operations center was determined after a study was conducted by an engineer. The goal was to make sure the facility is out of a flood zone, has easy access and features improved safety with a new security checkpoint.
The new facility will withstand 250 mph winds, according to Owens.
"While it's impossible to build an unsinkable ship, we need to make sure this facility can operate in the worst possible condition," he said. "Day to day, it will work on commercial power from the utility companies. We understand in emergency situations we will lose power, so the first thing is a U.P.S. backup system."
Two generators will power the entire facility in case of an emergency, Owens added.
As for looks, the new building will blend in with the current Florence County Law Enforcement Complex and will sit directly behind the building.
Owens said after emergency management employees move out of the current space, the sheriff's office will take it over.
The new center is expected to be up and running by November 2017.