Fire company plans $2 million addition

Lineboro to expand staff, equipment spaces

November 27, 2005|By ELLIE BAUBLITZ | ELLIE BAUBLITZ,SUN REPORTER

Its Web site calls it "trying to keep up with the neighborhood."

That's what the Lineboro Volunteer Fire Department is planning to do when it starts expanding its facilities.

Lineboro is joining other fire companies in Carroll County in expanding and renovating the facilities that have outgrown equipment and personnel needs.

President David Dickmyer said Lineboro awarded Jeager Inc., general contractors of Aberdeen, a $2.175 million contract to build a 7,000-square-foot addition to the Main Street firehouse, then renovate the existing building.

The addition will measure 55 feet wide in front, 90 feet wide in the rear and 100 feet deep.

"The addition will have three double bays, with doors on the back and front," said Chuck Myers, the department's first vice president and building committee chairman.

The new bays will offer needed space for vehicles that barely fit into the existing firehouse.

"The top and sides of the engines have an inch and a half clearance," Dickmyer said. "If we have to do any maintenance or wash the engines, we have to pull them out of the bay."

During the three weeks of the Bedlam in the Boro Haunted Hayride last month, one engine and the air unit are housed in a shed behind the firehouse while the bays are turned into a cafeteria to feed the thousands who come for Lineboro's biggest fundraiser.

Even with two additions to the 1919 firehouse - a kitchen in the late 1940s, and two bays in 1971 - firefighters and round-the-clock Emergency Medical Services personnel have no space for necessities, such as sleeping and bathing.

"We put in a partition and some beds upstairs, but it's not very comfortable," Dickmyer said.

The addition also will have a 3,300-square-foot activities area and a donated commercial kitchen, storage space, a hose tower, ventilated gear room and a detox area "for when gear is contaminated by hazardous materials," Dickmyer said.

"We get a lot of trucking through here - we've had propane and powdery substances - you don't know what people have in the back of a truck," Myers said. "We also have the railroad line."

The main level of the existing firehouse will be renovated to include bays for smaller vehicles, a new dispatch room, day room, space for Emergency Medical Services, staff kitchen, laundry room and public bathrooms.

"The larger dispatch radio room will have a kickout so we can see up and down the street to get the equipment out safely," Myers said.

Bathrooms with showers and bunkrooms for men and women will be installed upstairs, along with meeting rooms and offices. The complex will be air conditioned and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Other fire companies facing similar situations also are expanding and renovating. New Windsor Fire & Hose Company just built a firehouse, and Winfield Community Volunteer Fire Department is doing a similar renovation/addition project. Gamber & Community Volunteer Fire Company is adding a training/meeting room, bathrooms and storage space.

For major projects, the fire companies borrow low-cost bond loans from the county. Lineboro borrowed $900,000 two years ago, but had to ask for $600,000 more after the design and permit process took two years to complete, doubling the project's cost.

"It's taken two years because of the stream that runs behind the firehouse," Myers said. "Technically, we're not in a flood plain, but the county considers anything within 100 feet a flood area, so we had to make modifications to the building for flood prevention, and that held us up."

Dickmyer has faith that the community will come through in helping the fire company raise the extra $500,000 it still needs for the project, or the renovation part may have to wait. The company's annual letter campaign and raffle are coming up, and Myers said they are selling memorial/recognition bricks for a sidewalk to raise money.

Myers noted that although Lineboro runs many calls to Baltimore County and southern Pennsylvania, the company does not get funding from them. Funding from Carroll County pays only part of the company's operating expenses, but not capital improvements.

Lineboro has more than 40 active volunteers who answer an average of 350 EMS and 350 fire calls every year, and also perform tasks around the firehouse to help save money, Dickmyer said.

Lineboro also is getting a new communications tower in the area to relieve "dead spots" where the 800 megahertz radios don't work in the northeast area.

Randy Waesche, emergency communications coordinator for the Office of Public Safety, said the 340-foot tower is up, communications and electrical equipment is being installed and the county is applying for its Federal Communications Commission license. He hopes to have the tower in service by the end of the year, though no start-up date has been set.

ellie.baublitz@baltsun.com

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