Council Approves $5M Fire Upgrades

OCEAN CITY – Fire Chief Chris Larmore came before the Mayor and Council this week to justify bond funding for repairs and improvements to fire stations.

“I came before the council when the council decided it would be a possibility to go to the bond market and I asked that you insert a project that would involve both … an expansion of fire department headquarters and the replacement of Station 4,” Larmore said.

Station 4 is the fire department’s northern station. It was constructed 38 years ago and has had little updates done since then.

About 12 years ago the Town of Ocean City and the Volunteer Fire Company commissioned the Station Site Location Study that predicted the need for an increased presence in the highly built-up northern end.

Larmore said at that time Station 4 was staffed with one paramedic unit and two people. Today the station is staffed with two paramedic units and six people. ‘The station was never designed for that,” he said.

The study also predicted the call growth from the northern portion would increase. Today over 50 percent of the calls received are from the north end of town.

Recommended improvements to Station 4 include expanding the engine bays to provide additional needed space for first response equipment to meet the needs of growing size of medical transport vehicles as well as fire apparatus and provide physical fitness facility.

“Obviously, a new station built by today’s standards would fit our needs much more,” Larmore said.

The Station Site Location Study also found the current headquarters on 15th Street does not optimize response capabilities and is too small with inadequate parking.

The building’s roof and façade are beyond the life expectancy for repair. Both need to be replaced and brought up to current storm resistive standards.

“We believe at this time headquarters at 15th Street will serve our immediate needs and our needs for the foreseeable future, however in the spirit of performing the repairs that we have delayed those two alone will be about $800,000,” he said.

Other improvements include a modest expansion needs to be added to the facility to accommodate physical fitness and administrative needs of the department, an extension of the ambulance bay on the northwest corner of the building to accommodate current and future growth of the medical transport units, continued renovation would also provide needed facilities for the live‐in volunteers, and the addition would also provide OCFD with a single location to combine all of its administrative components.

The total amount of improvements is estimated not to exceed $5.5 million. The council voted unanimously to include money in the future bond issuance for the fire department.