Aberdeen Fire Department is about to begin its largest undertaking in its 130-year history — a $7 million renovation and expansion of its main fire station on North Rogers Street in downtown.
While the company’s firefighting equipment will remain at the Rogers Street station during construction, two of the company’s ambulances will be moved to House 3 on Route 22 (Aberdeen Thruway) between Roberts Way and Middelton Road, John Bender, Aberdeen Fire Department vice president, told members of the Aberdeen City Council last month.
“We want to get the word out to the public that emergency response out of this station will greatly increase over the next 12 to 14 months,” Bender said.
Aberdeen’s medic units respond to 12 to 15 calls a day and, depending where the call is, could have to wait for six lanes of traffic to yield coming out of the Route 22 house, he said.
“Even though there are flashing overhead lights, and the medic units will have their lights on and sirens activated, I can tell you from personal experience drivers to not always pay attention to those flashing lights,” Bender said.
Aberdeen’s drivers are aware of the dangers of traffic at intersections and they use care and caution, but Bender wants other drivers to be aware as well.
Preliminary site work is expected to begin sometime next week, according to the department’s Facebook page, with hopes of the project being completed by the end of 2020. The contractor is North Point Builders of Baltimore.
The first phase — expected to take three to four months — includes demolition and reconstruction of the two large bays that house the two ambulances being relocated, the community room, the day room, and storage and office space, Bender said.
The second phase will start, weather permitting, in late December or early January with demolition of the two-story section of the building, the banquet hall and the single-family home next door, Bender said.
Once demolition is complete, the site will be prepared for construction of the new addition.
The firefighting equipment will remain at the North Rogers Street station for the duration of the construction project, but Bender said sometimes the trucks may be parked across the street, depending what’s going on.
The station houses two engines, an aerial ladder platform, a heavy duty rescue truck, a brush truck and a pickup truck.
The timeline for the renovation project has also caused the fire company to cancel its annual Christmas Street Craft Fair and Breakfast with Santa events later this year.
“The decision has been made that due to space, access, and safety concerns we will not hold these events this year however we certainly hope to be able to have them next year,” the company posted on its Facebook page.
“We must add that we did explore several possible options and locations for these events but feel as if we have made the most appropriate decision at this point. ... We would certainly like to apologize for any inconvenience this decision may have caused."