Boykins seeking funds for generator

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BOYKINS—The Town of Boykins is looking for funds to purchase a backup propane generator that would keep water flowing to the municipality in the event of a power outage.

Town officials are concerned about the prospect of losing electrical power during a fire, which would deprive firefighters of the water needed to fight it. That scenario briefly became a reality on May 7, when a warehouse fire on Serbin Street knocked out power to the entire town.

“It was a wake-up call,” Boykins Mayor Spier Edwards said Tuesday. “Had it not been for all of the fire departments here, we could have lost one or two buildings around that warehouse. We could have lost something else.”

Edwards said the town is looking to purchase a 36-kilowatt, 230-volt, three-phase propane generator to keep the municipal water pumping from the Boykins Wastewater Treatment Plant, located on Number 8 Schoolhouse Road. The mayor said the generator could cost about $15,000.

“We are still looking into what we can do to have it funded,” Edwards said. “We’ve talked to the county and we have some figures.”

Edwards said the town is looking into receiving a grant to help cover some of the cost of the generator, and mentioned a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a possibility. He said there have also been discussions with Narricot Industries and Scott Freeman, the president of Dolphin Fixtures of Norfolk.

Narricot, the town’s top employer, manufactures seatbelt webbing for cars, and polyester and nylon webbing products for commercial, industrial and military uses.

Narricot also owns buildings and property adjacent to the former Dolphin Fixtures warehouse at 18068 Serbin St., a building that stored shelving, mannequins and other items for department stores when it burned to the ground on May 7.

Investigators have since determined that either an electrical panel or an electric forklift caused the fire.

Firefighters and rescue personnel from 17 jurisdictions, in both Virginia and North Carolina, responded to the fire. Concerns about the town’s water level, which fell from about 300,000 to 110,000 gallons during the height of the blaze, required firefighters to pump water from nearby Tarrara Creek.

“We need to get this generator on-site because once the electricity goes down we have no fire protection as far as pumping water,” Edwards said.

The Boykins Wastewater Treatment Plant, which the town sold to Southampton County in 1990 for one dollar, provides water to Boykins, Branchville and Newsoms.