Washington Township – On February 15, residents here will vote from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the Fire Department’s operating budget and a bond referendum to replace a fire station and complete renovations to other fire stations. After visiting the fire station on Johnson Road it’s clear the firefighters need these upgrades to perform their duties, protecting our community long into the future.
The current age of the Johnson Road station limits the firefighter’s ability to store some of the larger, modern fire apparatus and store equipment, according to Fire Chief Pat Dolgos.
“For example, some of our specialty trailers are too long. Also, both of our ladder trucks and rescue are too high and long to fit,” Dolgos said. “This is the only station where we have these issues. In the event our resource deployment changes due to changes in geographic call volume, these special trucks may have to be relocated to this side of town. With the new station, we will have that ability.”
The Jonhson Road fire station is the oldest in the fire district. It was built 58 years ago in 1962. Over the years, additions were added to the building in 1971 and 1989, but continuing this approach is not cost effective, according to the Fire Chief.
Dolgos said the fire department researched the feasibility of refurbishing the building instead of rebuilding it.
“Surprisingly, renovating a fire station, bringing it up to modern codes and standards can be extremely expensive versus demolishing and rebuilding,” he said. “Today’s building construction focuses on speed and efficiency and is more cost effective for the taxpayer. The facility is being designed to provide us with at least 50 years of use.”
The new facility would be a single-story building designed to deal with modern firefighting issues. It will have larger open apparatus space with state-of-the-art vehicle exhaust removal systems.
Poor living conditions
When the Johnson Road firehouse was built living conditions weren’t a major concern for the fire department because it was totally comprised of volunteers who responded from home.
However, now living conditions are a major concern for career firefighters who work 24-hour shifts and live at these facilities for long periods of time.
Currently, the department’s living space are located on the second floor of the fire station. This is a problem because running down a flight of stairs is not an ideal situation for response time.
The living space also poses a number of other problems for firefighters.
“It is tight when trying to prepare meals, eat at the same table, having adequate sleeping facilities, and bathroom space,” Dolgos said. “There is only one shower and bathroom on the second floor. The building has gender separation issues. In other words, we don’t have separate facilities for females and males. In addition, the Johnson Road station (because of it’s age) does not meet ADA compliance.”
The sleeping arrangements are also outdated.
“Imagine trying to sleep in a room with 4 to 8 firefighters with different sleeping habits,” Dolgos said. “Modern fire station bunk rooms basically consist of very small individual private rooms allowing for adequate sleeping patterns and are gender neutral.”
- The firehouse project calls for the Johnson Road Fire Station to be demolished and replaced with a new single-story station and furnishings.
- At the East Holly Ave Fire Station renovations to the sleeping quarters, restroom facility upgrades to comply with ADA standards, upgrades to toilets and showers, fitness room upgrades, upgrades to ventilation and the HVAC system.
- At the Hurffville-Grenloch Fire Station renovations include a roof replacement, upgrades to the sleeping facilities, training mezzanine, and upgrades to ventilation and HVAC systems.
If approved, the renovations and repairs will cost a total of $9,969,489 and will be paid over the course of 20 years; The approximate annual cost for taxpayers is $16 for a home assessed at $100,000, $32 for a home assessed at $200,000, $48 for a home assessed at $300,000, $64 for a home assessed at $400,000, and $80 for a home assessed at $500,000, according to the township data.
Voting will be held on Saturday, February 15 from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Districts 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, and 22 vote at the Grenloch Main Station on Hurffville/Grenloch Road.
Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 16, 17, 18, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29 and 34 vote at the Hurffville Main Station located on East Holly Ave.
Districts 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 vote at the Whitman Square Main Station located on Johnson Road.