Major Changes Planned For OC Fire Department Buildings

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OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) has received the go-ahead to move into the next phases of the renovation on the headquarters building downtown and the complete rebuild of Station 4 uptown.

The first request before the Mayor and City Council this week was for approval to contract an architect, Design Atlantic, for final design services and construction documents for Fire Station 4 on 130th Street.

According to City Engineer Terry McGean, who was not present during the meeting, the preliminary design for a new Fire Station 4 has been approved by the Fire Department Building Committee and staff requests the council’s approval to move forward with final design and preparation of construction documents with the goal of beginning construction in the spring of 2013.

McGean submitted the reconstruction of Fire Station 4 was included in the 2012 bond issuance when obtaining federal stimulus funds became unsuccessful. The preliminary design and architect selection for this project started back in 2009.

McGean furthered Fire Station 4 was selected by the OCFD as a top priority for expansion due to the concentration of high-rise structures and year-round residents in the north end of the City. The idea to renovate versus a rebuild was investigated but the cost for renovation was deemed ineffective.

McGean added that some changes have been made to refine the design to reduce costs, such as removing the first floor kitchen and the green roof, as well as reconfiguring the engine bay support spaces. The new 11,500-square-foot building increases the capacity of the engine bay by more than one third and provides areas for both duty crews and the departments successful live in program.

The total building budget is $3.5 million and the committee has negotiated a cost of $131,125 with Design Atlantic to complete bid documents including architectural, structural engineering, civil engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, which the staff had over estimated to cost $155,000.

“We feel this is the best way to approach this for the best dollar amount,” Deputy Fire Marshal Cliff Christello said during Tuesday afternoon’s meeting.

Next, the Mayor and City Council heard the request for permission to receive proposals for design services for renovations and additions to the fire headquarters building on 15th Street that was also included in the 2012 bond issuance.

Headquarters was built in 1960 and is an 18,000-square-foot building that serves as a fire station with bunk rooms, meeting area, dispatch area, and administrative offices for the OCFD.

In 2008, the City Fire Marshal, Emergency Medical Services and the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company were combined under a single command structure, and the current headquarters building cannot adequately meet the needs of the occupants.

The building is in need of additional equipment bay space and storage space as well as amenities, such as an exercise facility that is desired by personnel.

The rebuild proposes to expand the building approximately 70 feet by 30 feet to the south for administrative space and approximately 18 feet by 36 feet to the west for equipment and storage space.

The building’s exterior is also in need of attention as it has suffered numerous problems with moisture penetration. The renovation also proposes to completely renovate the building roof and envelope to esthetically fit with the surrounding structures, eliminate moisture problems and maintain protection during storm events.

Other needs identified are the relocation of the building’s generator and fuel tank, various electrical panels and of the cascade oxygen system.

Ocean City has appropriated $1.5 million in funds for the design and construction of the identified renovations, including $150,000 for elimination of utility pole wires on the south side of the building.

“We have done space planning with this group [Fire Department Building Committee], and again to save costs we didn’t bring an architect in from the start but we are to the point now where we need an architect on board,” Christello said. “This will be the first step of going into construction drawings.”

The council voted unanimously to approve both requests made, to contract Design Atlantic for final design services and construction for Fire Station 4 and to receive proposals for design services for the renovations to headquarters.

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