Firefighters in Roland Park are pleading for a better roof over their heads.
The slate roof on their fire station at 2 Upland Rd., which houses Engine 44 and Truck 25, is so old and leaky that it's causing water damage in the building, said Lt. Carl Mallory, who led a contingent of eight firefighters to talk to the Roland Park Civic League on Thursday, Sept. 6.
Baltimore City, using a combination of state and city funding and community-raised money, is expected to begin renovating the 113-year-old firehouse later this year, including roofing, air conditioning and second-floor bathroom upgrades.
But the city's Department of General Services is still working out the details of the project and some civic league members Thursday were considering cheaper options for the roof work, such as replacing it with a synthetic slate or repairing it instead of replacing it.
"For roofers, the fallback is to replace," said Andrew Marani, who owns the building contracting company A.R. Marani Inc.
But Mallory cautioned that the roof has been repaired "numerous times," and as recently as two years ago.
"At some point in time, things need to be replaced," he told the league board, describing blistering paint and crumbling sheet rock from rain damage.
Using synthetic slate would reduce costs by at least a third, league members said.
But under community covenants, the league's Roads and Maintenance Office must approve some kinds of synthetic slate.
The league voted to write Roads and Maintenance a letter in support of synthetic slate, if the roof is to be replaced rather than repaired.
League president Phil Spevak said the city has a roof replacement estimate using real slate.
"It's very high," Spevak said. He would not say how much the estimate is for.
But Spevak said the city has said it wants to replace the roof and that the league doesn't know enough to have an opinion.
He said, "The key to us is, we want to get this project completed. It has gone on too long."
Mallory said firefighters have received no word on when the renovations would start. They will have to relocate to another fire station temporarily while the work is done.
"As soon as we get information, we'll be ready to move," Mallory said.