New fire station serves Guard base, eastern Balto. Co.

$7 million facility built at Warfield in Middle River

  • Col. Scott Kelly, left, commander of the 175th wing, holds the ribbon as it is cut by Congressman C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger and Major General James Adkins at the dedication of the new Maryland Air National Guard fire station located at Martin State Airport.
Col. Scott Kelly, left, commander of the 175th wing, holds the… (Barbara Haddock Taylor,…)
January 19, 2012|By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

A new fire station officially opened Thursday at the Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River that will serve the military installation and nearby communities in eastern Baltimore County.

The new station sits on a base that is home to the 1,500 members of the Guard's 175th Wing, but firefighters at the $7 million facility were battling a blaze at a home in Wilson Point most of Wednesday night and recently assisted county crews with an overturned tanker truck just outside its Eastern Avenue gate.

The station, paid for with federal money, will also respond to calls from adjoining Martin State Airport and travelers along Interstate 95.

"We handle more than 100 calls off the base annually," said Fire Chief Wayne Viands, who oversees more than 60 firefighters who work around the clock and typically respond to about 1,000 calls a year. "Sometimes we are the closest to the incident, and sometimes other companies require our assistance or the resources we have here."

Baltimore County Battalion Chief Kyrle Preis, who was on the scene of the house fire Wednesday, said the partnership works well and offers many advantages to the community.

"This is all about providing the best service and letting people know help is ever ready," Preis said.

Organizers of the station's celebratory opening Thursday suspended a red, white and blue ribbon between two of the newest pieces of equipment: a $500,000 engine and an equally costly tanker that can carry 4,000 gallons of water.

The 12-bay station can house at least eight such vehicles. The one-story brick building, with classrooms, recreational spaces, a commercial-size kitchen and offices replaced an outdated structure that was so cramped that some vehicles rarely made it indoors and bunk areas had to double as classrooms.

Its command center, which offers sweeping views of the surrounding airfields, is connected to the county's emergency operations and the area's 911 calls ring in both locations.

In another ceremony Thursday at the Parkville Fire Station, Baltimore County fire companies marked the arrival of 60 new cardiac monitors, purchased with a $2 million Homeland Security grant. The equipment is expected to enhance life-saving capabilities at all 58 stations.

"This means every ambulance in our fleet has state-of-the-art monitoring equipment," Preis said. "Our paramedics can take an EKG on the scene and transmit to the cardiologist at the hospital. This is a truly valuable grant in these austere times."

The grant also paid for $90,000 in upgrades at the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department building on Southwestern Boulevard and the purchase of a thermal-imaging camera designed to improve that station's fire-tracking capability.

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