Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

City Unveils New Firehouse Plan

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

City Unveils New Firehouse Plan

Article excerpt

ENGLEWOOD -- City leaders are considering building a $6.2 million firehouse on South Van Brunt Street and naming it for the late Jack Drakeford, a longtime councilman whose 50-year career in public service began as one of the city's first black firefighters.

Those plans moved along with a presentation on Tuesday night by an architectural firm hired to design a new fire station that would replace the crumbling 90-year-old headquarters on Williams Street, where conditions have been repeatedly cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The firehouse has had problems with ceiling leaks, broken urinals, cramped locker rooms, faulty wiring and pipes contaminated by asbestos. In 2009, firefighters had to kill an opossum found rummaging near a water cooler. And that same year, the building had rodent infestation so severe that a space between two refrigerators was nicknamed the Mouse Turnpike.

"Nothing has changed," Fire Chief Gerald Marion said on Tuesday, though "I haven't seen any mice. But we have an exterminating service: Luckily, we seem to have a cat that's taken up residence. I'm sure that's helping to control the mice problem."

Marion said the proposed building would be a more fitting home for one of the largest fire departments in Bergen County.

"A new firehouse would do wonders for morale," he said before the meeting. "Having a safe and decent place to work for people who literally risk their lives for our community doesn't seem a lot to ask."

The proposed brick firehouse would be a wheelchair-accessible, L- shaped building with 22,700 square feet of space, nearly double the size of the current fire station. It would be built on a vacant spot between the police station/municipal court building and the ambulance corps building, enlarging the public safety complex near the city's downtown business district. …

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