OCEAN CITY – Driving in North Ocean City you may notice the new state-of-the-art Fire Station 4 is nearing completion as the Ocean City Fire Department is gearing up to move back in.
Fire Station 4 located on 130th Street and Coastal Highway was selected by the Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) as a top priority for expansion. The idea to renovate versus a rebuild was investigated but the cost for renovation was not effective.
The station was constructed 40 years ago and had little updates done along the way besides emergency repairs. Over 10 years ago, the Town of Ocean City and the Volunteer Fire Company commissioned a study, Station Site Location Study, that predicted the need for an increased presence in the highly built up northern end of town, and improving service in the area is vital to the coverage size, high‐rise buildings, elderly population, and recurring traffic congestion.
In 2012, Fire Station 4 came before the Mayor and City Council and plans were approved to move forward with the final design and preparation of construction documents at that time.
Fire Station 4 was included in the 2012 bond issuance when obtaining federal stimulus funds became unsuccessful. The preliminary design and architect selection for the project started back in 2009.
In August 2013, the Mayor and City Council approved the apparent low bidder of Gillis Gilkerson in the amount of $2.6 million to construct the new fire station. The total building budget was $3.5 million that is funded by the 2012 bond issue.
The council also approved the Recreation and Parks storage unit on the backside of Jamaica Ave. to serve as a temporary facility for Fire Station 4 during construction. The site is just 400 yards from the existing fire station.
The new facility will be larger with an increase from two engine bays to three, an exercise room, decontamination room and an increase in living space for duty crews as well as an addition of a live-in area on the second floor as a way to encourage volunteers by providing housing.
In October 2013, Fire Station 4 was demolished, the site was cleared and foundation work began. The project had 200 calendar days to be completed and was estimated to be finished in May in time for summer because of weather and subcontractor issues.
“Fire Station 4 is pretty much done. We are going to do the final inspection and punch list with the architect on Friday,” said City Engineer Terry McGean, adding the “punch list” including paint touch ups and other minor adjustments. “Obviously completion was later than we would have liked. Some of that was attributable to weather and difficulties the general contractor had with some subcontractors.”
Gillis Gilkerson is about 80 days over schedule. Following town protocol, it will meet with the Mayor and City Council and come up with an agreement of what the final impact of liquidated damages will be due to the delay.
In terms of budget, the project came in well under budget providing the opportunity for surplus funds to go toward the upcoming renovation of fire headquarters downtown.
Fire Station 4 is following in the footsteps of Ocean City’s traditional “mid-Atlantic turn of the century architecture”, as is represented with the Ocean City Life Savings Museum and the new beach patrol headquarters to begin construction this fall.
The tower atop the new facility stands out as McGean explained traditionally fire station towers were used to dry out hoses.
“There are stairs that go up to the tower that has access to the roof, and there is a paved area on the roof so that the live-in people have an outdoor space,” McGean explained of Fire Station 4.
According to McGean, the furniture is being moved into the building and the fire department will permanently occupy the facility once again by the end of the month.