New West OC Fire Station Taking Shape

weeks of non-descript preparation and site work, the new Ocean City Fire
Department Station 5 building on Keyser Point Rd. in West Ocean City has
started springing from the ground in the last week or so and is on target for a
April occupancy.

For the last 10 years,
the Ocean City Fire Department (OCFD) has been scrimping and saving for a new
facility to replace the decades-old building in West Ocean City and the dream
is closer now then ever to becoming a reality.

After an auction of
souvenirs, artifacts and memorabilia in May, the old station was torn down and
construction on a state-of-the-art firehouse on Keyser Point Rd. began earlier
this summer.

Over the last few weeks,
the concrete foundation was laid and the utilities were installed, but still
the new $2.75 million facility wasn’t much to look at. In the last week or so,
however, the new firehouse has started to take shape and is now springing from
the ground on the site of the old station demolished earlier this summer.

This week, the interior
stairwells and elevator towers started going up and the structural steel for
the skeleton of the building is expected to be delivered next week. With a
little luck and a little cooperation from the weather, construction should hit
a new pace within a matter of weeks, according to Ocean City Volunteer Fire
Company (OCVFC) President James L. Jester.

“Right now everything is
right on schedule and it’s really starting to look like something now,” he
said. “If everything goes according to plan, and there is no reason to believe
it won’t at this point, it should be about 25-percent complete by the end of
September. Right now, we’re still on target for an April occupancy.”

The new facility will
include space for about 10 more pieces of apparatus than the old facility
housed. In addition, there will be about 8,000 square feet of new space added
for offices, meeting rooms, sleeping quarters and even a fitness center for
firefighters. In short, not only will the new station allow the OCFD to enhance
its presence in West Ocean City, it will also provide many new amenities for
the men and women who serve there.

“This is certainly going
to be a very modern, state-of-the-art fire facility for us,” said Jester. “This
is something we’ve been dreaming about and talking about for around 10 years or
more and it’s finally starting to take shape.”

The OCFD is largely
funding the project on its own with its own savings and an aggressive
fundraising campaign. Jester said saving for the new station about a decade ago
and the OCVFC was able to put about $100,000 aside each year for about 10
years, or roughly $1 million, toward the design and construction cost.

The fire department was
able to forward-fund about $1 million for the project and is currently in the
process of raising the additional $1.75 million for its completion.

“We’ve been putting away
money for this for a decade and so far we haven’t had to borrow a single
dollar,” said Jester. “Now, we’re trying to raise the additional $1.75 million
through our fundraising efforts to help finance the completion of the project.”

There are several easy
ways for the public to contribute to the fundraising effort for the new Station
5 facility. Donations can be made easily at the OCFD’s website or at any Bank
of Ocean City branch. In addition, the fire department has several fundraisers
planned over the next several months.

While the new facility
is being built, the OCFD has been creative in ensuring seamless fire protection
services in West Ocean City and throughout its response area. Jester said three
pieces of apparatus have been stored all summer on a lot adjacent to the new
station owned by the city, with the balance of the equipment in West Ocean City
stored on property owned by Trimper’s Rides along Route 611.

“We haven’t had any
problems at all in the short term, but sooner than later we’re going to have to
figure out what to do with that equipment stored on Route 611,” said Jester.
“Before long, the Trimpers are going to need that warehouse space back for
their rides.”