After a well-attended dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, Oct. 8, Howard County's new $4 million fire station located off Route 97 in Glenwood is now open and fully operational.
The Glenwood Fire Station, which is located behind the Gary J. Arthur Community Center, is the first entirely new station built in Howard County since 1994, extending the number of active stations under the jurisdiction of the county's Department of Fire and Rescue Services to 12.
The 10,000 square-foot station, which will be staffed by 21 career emergency responders divided into groups of seven, will primarily focus on incidents in Glenwood, but also will assist the three nearby volunteer fire stations as well.
"The addition of this new station will not only reduce our response times throughout western Howard County," said HCDFRS Chief William Goddard, "but it will also provide a critical safety net of support for each and every one of our firefighters and paramedics in Lisbon, West Friendship, and Clarksville, should that tragic need arise."
According to Capt. Kevin Henry, the Glenwood station is the first in the county to be fully integrated with the new digital emergency response system, which automatically dispatches calls from the emergency response center to the nearest fire station.
Currently, the other fire stations in the county simultaneously employ the digital system and the traditional system. Henry said the department hopes to have the digital system fully integrated into the other 11 fire stations by the end of the year.
Another unique feature of the station is the innovative drainage system. All water drained from the station's three engine garage bay is filtered twice and recycled back into the station's 30,000 gallon underground water tank.
Recycling the water used to clean the station's new fire engine, tanker truck, and paramedic ambulance, will allow the storage tank to stay fuller longer.
Henry said the Glenwood station is the first in Howard County to install the cutting edge system.
Although construction began on the Glenwood station in November of 2010, new station commander Capt. William Rosier said Monday's dedication ceremony was a long time coming.
"I started with the department in September of 1985, and around 1987 is when we started talking about the Glenwood Fire Station," Rosier said.
While plans for a station have been in the works for years — the site location for the new station has been reserved since 1998 — the impetus to get the station completed was the result of a challenge posed to Goddard by County Executive Ken Ulman.
"When I came on as chief, the county executive told me we had to reduce response time," Goddard said. "Through gathering empirical data, this area was identified as a real area of need."
Goddard said that in some instances it took responders 12 minutes to reach incidents that will now be serviced by the Glenwood station.
"This station is going to have a direct impact on the residents of this community," Goddard said. "People are really going to benefit from this."
In addition to the Glenwood station, the county is in the process of completing three more construction projects in Elkridge, Jessup and Savage, that will increase coverage and decrease response time.
All three projects are relocations and expansions of current fire stations. The first project, which is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2013, will relocate the Savage Volunteer Fire Company, currently on Lincoln Street, closer to Route 32.
In Elkridge, the county is close to completing the acquisition of land for the relocation of the Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department from Old Washington Boulevard to Bauman Road, which runs parallel to Interstate 95.
In Jessup, the county is planning to expand and relocate a station closer to the intersection of Route 175 and Montevideo Road. Construction is expected to begin in 2015.
"The county has adopted a very strategic approach," Goddard said. "They're not just looking for a quick fix. They're considering the long-term implications."