A $7 million renovation and expansion of the main Aberdeen firehouse on North Rogers Street is expected to begin early next year, fire company officials said this week.
The station, one of four in Aberdeen, will remain open and functioning for the duration of the project, which is expected to take 14 to 18 months, John Bender, Aberdeen Fire Department vice president, said. Bender is also chair of the building committee.
“The building just doesn’t work for us anymore. We need to provide better living spaces for our members and our live-in medic crews,” Bender said. “We want to improve the operation of our station, make it a lot more efficient to today’s standards.”
The original Aberdeen Fire Department building was built in 1972 and the systems are failing and need to be replaced, Bender said.
“We’re committed to providing a first-class facility for the community so we can continue to provide first class service for the next 25 to 30 years, at least,” he said.
The committee has been working on the project for five years, consulting with an architect to determine if a complete renovation or a renovation/expansion was the best option.
“It is less expensive to do what we’re doing,” Bender said.
At its meeting Monday’s evening, the Aberdeen City Council unanimously approved the site plan for the project after it first approved consolidating two lots into one.
The existing 23,000-square-foot building is on 1.2 acres, engineer John Gonzalez, of Landmark Science and Engineering of Havre de Grace, told the city council members.
The fire department bought an adjacent property that was combined into one with the existing lot to create a total 1.53-acre site, he said.
The first part of the project will be to renovate the three-bay area of the existing station, Gonzalez said.
When that’s completed, an estimated 11,000 square feet of the existing building will be torn down and replaced with a 24,400-square-foot structure to add bunk rooms, meetings spaces, a banquet hall and offices.
“The fire department and architect worked very hard to come up with a building plan that really looks forward to the needs of the fire company,” Gonzalez said.
Bender said the fire company would like to award a construction contract in the next two to three weeks and break ground in early 2019.
The Rogers Street station houses an engine, a rescue truck and an aerial platform, as well as two medic units. The fire equipment will remain during construction, Bender said. One of the medic units may be relocated to House 3 on Route 22.
The fire company has four fire stations. In addition to Rogers Street and Route 22, it operates stations on East Bel Air Avenue (House 2) and one on Perryman Road (House 4), Bender said.