Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Smaller Plan for Fire Unit Backed

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Smaller Plan for Fire Unit Backed

Article excerpt

ENGLEWOOD -- The City Council voted Tuesday to spend $280,000 to finance the design of a new Fire Department building that will be smaller than one proposed three years ago.

The city had planned to build a firehouse in 2009 that also would have housed the city's Building Department, freeing up room in City Hall for a new council chamber. That firehouse also would have incorporated the Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Englewood EMT.

The city spent more than $200,000 on construction drawings for City Hall and had concept drawings created for a $9 million firehouse, Mayor Frank Huttle said. The city has since scrapped the City Hall renovation plan, outsourced its medical response services and cut its budget for building a new firehouse to about $4 million.

Officials say the scaled-back firehouse could sit between the Police Department and ambulance corps buildings on South Van Brunt Street, but an exact location has not been determined. The council voted 3-1 Tuesday night to hire an architect to design the new fire building. Councilman Eugene Skurnick cast the dissenting vote, and Councilman Jack Drakeford was absent.

There is a consensus that a new firehouse is needed. The Englewood Fire Department, the third-largest in Bergen County, operates out of an 88-year-old firehouse on William Street.

Firefighters have had to cope with cracked floors, faulty wiring, a mouse and pigeon infestation, moldy showers, broken urinals and a severe lack of storage. A hazmat truck is parked outside because there is no other place for it.

The department has been cited for violations by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration several times.

"It's in shambles," Councilwoman Lynne Algrant said before the meeting. "We have delayed this [vote] far too long."

Fire Chief Gerald Marion said a new firehouse is desperately needed, but questioned if the city could build one for $4 million with enough space to comfortably house firefighters and equipment. …

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