During the work session of Monday's Mayor and Council meeting, the governing body agreed to the formation of an advisory committee to explore the expansion of both of the borough's firehouses. According to Angelo DeCarlo, past fire chief out of Fire Company No. 2, the issue of expanding Company No. 2's firehouse has been on the table since 2002.
In June, representatives from , along with Rob Conley of Robbie Conley Architect, LLC, met with the Mayor and Council to discuss the structural state of their firehouse and to present the governing body with options for bringing the firehouse into compliance with the codes of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
During that meeting, past and current chiefs said that Company 2 has two immediate needs. One is to be able to fit a new, bigger fire truck into the engine room within the next two years, and the second is to replace to code spaces within the firehouse that have to be renovated and/or improved.
During that meeting, DeCarlo said that the fire department is approaching this expansion "conscious that cost is a main concern."
According to DeCarlo, within the next two years Company 2 will have to replace their current tower ladder truck that is over 20 years old. Not only is it outdated, but it is no longer in compliance with federal standards. New firetrucks have to meet certain compliance standards set by the NFPA and those firetrucks are now much larger and will not currently fit into the engine room of Company 2.
Gone are the days when firefighters jump onto the back of a moving firetruck to get to the fire. NFPA requires that firefighters ride seated inside a cab and be seatbelted, a requirement, that in itself, extends the length of the firetruck.
Three years ago, Conley had put together a proposal for Company 2 that contained a number of options, one of which was a total knockdown and rebuild of a two story structure for approximately $2.2 million, or $145/sq. ft. The option of renovating the building worked out to approximately $90/sq. ft.
But then the economy went south and the discussion was back-burnered. However, 2012 brings closer the imminent need for purchasing a new truck, and bringing the building to code while providing much needed space. Which is why Company 2 invited the Mayor and Council to visit their firehouse in June and engage them in discussion regarding the best, most cost-effective, plan of action.
At the time of the June meeting, Councilman Dominic Colucci said that given the current state of the construction economy, it is likely that the estimated cost of both projects would be lower in today's market.
In addition to Company 2's request for expansion, has also requested funding for a construction project in their firehouse. Among other things, their engine room lacks space for the firefighters to safely access and put on their gear when called out to a fire.
During Monday's Mayor and Council meeting, the governing body agreed that the proposed advisory committee will consist of two members of the council, two members of the fire department (one from each company), and two members of the public. It has yet to be determined who will serve on this committee, but DeCarlo is putting together a mission statement that will be published on the borough's website to notice any members of the public who are interested in serving.
DeCarlo wants the findings of the committee to demonstrate to the Mayor and Council, as well as to the public, that the fire department and the community need this expansion in order to carry the fire department forward into the next 75 years of service.
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