Roland Park fire house to close for at least three months for renovations

The aging Roland Park fire station, home of Engine 44, will be closed for at least three months later this year for renovations on the second floor, and its firefighters and paramedics probably will be reassigned to Hampden's fire house until the work is done.

The $185,000 project, funded with a state bond bill of $110,000 and $75,000 raised by the community, calls for gutting the second floor except for the captain's quarters, doing lead abatement and replacing rotted dormers with replicas, as well as expanding the weight room and installing new lockers and two unisex bathrooms, said Laurie Ansley, project manager and architect for Baltimore City's Department of General Services.

The kitchen and lounge downstairs have already been renovated, Ansley said.

The second-floor renovations are expected to be finished by the end of the year, Ansley told the Roland Park Civic League on Thursday.

She said she anticipates putting the project out for bid in June and the city must approve the low bid, a process that could take up to three months. That would mean starting work in the fall, and the firefighters and paramedics stationed at the fire house at the corner of Roland Avenue and Upland Road would have to be relocated to another station in the area — probably the station at Roland and 37th Street, home of Engine No. 21, Ansley said.

Relocating firefighters temporarily to other stations is not uncommon, and last happened in the north Baltimore area when the Waverly station, Greenmount Avenue and 31st Street, which serves the Oakenshawe-Guilford-Abell area, was renovated in 2009. Those firefighters were reassigned for a year.

"It's kind of like a big slumber party," Ansley said. "Thy don't like it, but they do it for each other."

Built in 1899, Roland Park's station is one of the oldest in Baltimore.

Some civic league members and City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke expressed concerns about why the project, which has been in the planning since 2007, has taken so long. And they worried that the state funding, which was extended for a year, might be forfeited if the project isn't completed by Dec. 1.

Ansley said part of the delay was that she had to turn her attention to the city's Walbrook fire station, home of Engine No. 20, which was in worse shape than Roland Park's and needed emergency repairs. Other stations in the city or also in worse shape than Roland Park's, and are therefore pushed higher on the city's priority list for renovations, Ansley said.

"Believe it or not, Engine 44 is a palace" comparatively," she said.

Ansley said the work could be complicated by the fire station's spiral staircase, but she reassured Clarke and the league that the project would be finished on schedule.

"When I tell you it's going to be done by the end of the year, it's going to be done by the end of the year," she said.


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