Fire house offers more than bells and whistles

Department says `premier' Severn facility will help in effort to reduce response times


About the only thing missing from the new Severn Fire Station is a fire pole.

"With fire poles, we've received injuries in the past," said Lt. George Wiseman Jr., head of the station's B shift. "We've more or less moved away from that."

After opening Sept. 8, the one-story station at 7870 Telegraph Road in Severn had its official ribbon-cutting yesterday morning, with remarks from Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens, Fire Chief Ronald D. Blackwell, County Councilman C. Edward Middlebrooks and other county and fire officials.

The immaculate facility includes a watch room that dispatches the crew to emergencies; a day room with seven plush lounge chairs and a flat-screen television; a physical fitness room to encourage staff to exercise daily; a galley kitchen with commercial sink fixtures; and locker rooms with oversize shower stalls, designed to accommodate disabled people in case the facility is needed to house local residents during emergencies.

Blackwell called the Severn station "the premier facility in the county," and possibly the country as well. "It's a shining example of what a fire station can be."

The new station covers a 7.34-square-mile area that includes Severn, Ridgeway, West Odenton, Meade Village, the Orchards at Severn, Elmhurst and Derby Farms. That area includes 5,470 homes and 81 businesses, according to Fire Department documents.

Located just south of Donaldson Avenue and near Route 100, Route 32 and Interstate 97, the Severn station will enable the Fire Department to slash response times for the surrounding neighborhoods, said Chief Stuart D. McNicol, a spokesman for the Fire Department.

Response teams for those communities previously traveled from stations in South Glen Burnie, Odenton, Harmans Woods and Jessup, and response times were "longer than what our stated goals were," he said.

The station is staffed by three eight-person crews, each working a 24-hour shift followed by 48 hours off. Wiseman said the station planned to add a fourth crew in 2007.

Engine 41 and Medical Unit 4 serve as the station's primary response vehicles. McNicol said a new "Quint" vehicle, which combines the functions of an engine and a ladder truck, is expected to replace Engine 41 next year.

The county's Mobile Command and Control Unit, which traveled to the Gulf Coast to assist with hurricane relief efforts, is also housed at the station.

The Severn station - Anne Arundel County Fire Department 4 - is the first new station constructed in the county since 1985, bringing the number of stations to 30. Previous improvements to county stations were largely renovations, replacements or consolidations of existing facilities, Owens said.

Construction began in July 2004, after the purchase five years ago of the 4.3-acre plot. The total cost for the land, design, inspection and furnishings was $3.8 million. A second new fire station is being planned for Annapolis Neck, Owens said.

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