(Oct. 4, 2013) Although one of its four firehouses has been wiped clean off the sandy face of the earth, Ocean City’s emergency services will be uncompromised until a new facility is built.
The town issued a release this week to reassure citizens that the Ocean City Fire Department is now fully operational out of its temporary home in Northside Park, where it will remain until the department’s Station 4 at 130th Street is rebuilt.
“We have been working closely with the Engineering Department and the Recreation and Parks Department and are excited about our temporary home at Northside Park,” OCFD Deputy Chief Chris Shaffer said in the statement.
“We want to assure our residents and visitors that we have strategically planned so that our staff and equipment will always be available to them during this transitional period. At no time will any part of town lack fire or EMS coverage.”
Last week, the OCFD finished moving out of the old building on 130th Street and setting up shop in the Recreation and Parks Department’s maintenance garage at the northern end of Jamaica Avenue, roughly a block to the west.
Following that, the former Station 4 was demolished. New construction is expected to begin soon.
Although several temporary locations were identified, the parks maintenance building was both closest to the current location, minimizing the effect on response times, and easily accommodated the department’s vehicles.
The rebuild of Station 4, which is the OCFD’s northernmost outpost, was identified as the department’s top priority for capital projects back in 2009 due to the concentration of high rises and year-round residents in the area that it serves.
Federal stimulus money was anticipated for the project, but never came through, leaving the preliminary plans for the building to sit until the city could leverage a bond to borrow for the project. That money was borrowed in the 2012 municipal bond sale, at a total of $3.35 million.
However, the facility has been scaled back considerably from its initial proposal, including eliminating a number of energy-efficiency designs that would’ve been beneficial but excessively expensive. As it stands now, the facility is expected to cost around $2.8 million.
The new building will still provide 11,500 square feet of space, with engine bay and garage having more than one-third more room than the current Station 4. Dedicated accommodations for live-in shift crews, such as kitchens, are also a major feature of the layout.
At the same time as the new Station 4 is being built, the town is developing plans to renovate and expand the OCFD’s 15th Street headquarters building.