Fire company plans new station

Tight on space, 20-year-old Dublin building will be replaced

August 17, 2008|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Reporter

The Darlington Volunteer Fire Co. plans to build a new substation in Dublin to replace a 20-year-old facility where expansion is not physically possible.

The company, which has about 100 active volunteers on its rolls, serves northern Harford County along the U.S. 1 corridor, as well as Cecil County and southern Pennsylvania.

Members responded to more than 400 fires last year and made at least twice that number of emergency calls, its officials said.

"We cover one of the largest areas in the county as far as geography goes," said Donald Thomas, the company's president and a member since 1971.

Darlington's main station, a 12,000-square-foot building at 2600 Castleton Road near U.S. 1, handles the bulk of the calls. In addition to the station, that facility features a social hall, where members hold fundraisers.

But given the large call area, the company has, for more than 50 years, also staffed a smaller substation in the Dublin area. Members replaced the building there in 1985, but have no room on the half-acre site to expand any further.

"Everything we own there is either building or blacktop," Thomas said. "There is no room for parking and no room to expand. That's the main reason we are moving. We just lack space. The expansion is long overdue."

The company bought a nearly 7-acre parcel on the west side of Whiteford Road just south of Dublin Road. Plans call for razing a farmhouse on the property at 1520 Whiteford Road and building a station with engine and ambulance bays as well as bunk and meeting rooms. There will be no social hall.

"This site is good for our response area," Thomas said. "It will offer ample space for equipment and parking and will suffice for many years down the road."

The sale of the outdated substation will help offset the $2.5 million estimated construction cost for the new building, he said.

"We haven't even advertised the building and we have people waiting in the wings to buy it," Thomas said. "It has four bay areas for trucks and also has office space. I am sure it will suit someone's needs and help us pay for the other building."

Plans call for moving into the new substation by mid-2009 and selling the old building about the same time, he said.

"Then we will have some room to move," Thomas said.

As Harford's population continues to grow, many of its volunteer companies are finding themselves in need of more space.

The Bel Air Volunteer Fire Co. also has announced plans for a substation in that company's most populous service area, along Route 924 in Emmorton, where calls have more than doubled in the past decade, fire officials said.

The company plans a 6,800-square-foot substation that would house one engine and one ambulance on a nearly 3-acre, county-owned parcel adjacent to Patterson Mill High School.

The building on the corner of Patterson Mill and Emmorton roads would reflect the school's brick exterior and conform with it architecturally, officials said. The cost is estimated at $1.7 million, with an anticipated opening in 2010.

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