Progress continues on Fire Station 1

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The improved façade features new lights and doors. The improved façade features new lights and doors.

MARGATE – The nearly 30 inches of water that Hurricane Sandy swept into Fire Station 1 while it was undergoing renovations failed doused plans to have the station fully operational in the coming months.

“Everything is going to be brand new. Having a brand-new facility, bathrooms, kitchen, windows, everything – I think it will improve morale greatly,” said Chief Tony Tabasso. “It’s like renovating your house.”

Tabasso said Monday, Jan. 21 that the hurricane affected the progress of the renovations to the 100-year-old building on Ventnor Avenue next to City Hall.

While officials are still making payments to remediation companies in an effort to make City Hall habitable, Tabasso said no damage was done to the structure of the firehouse. However, equipment stored in a mobile storage pod outside the building sustained damage, and an air pack compressor fill station took on some saltwater.

“It put us behind,” Tabasso said.

The reconfiguration of space on the second floor is moving along smoothly, he said. New personal lockers have been installed, the walls have been painted, and signs now mark the dormitory area, which will sleep four firefighters, and the offices for the deputy chief and chief. Appliances have yet to be installed in the kitchen and day room, and the bathrooms await fixtures.

When finished, the building will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including a handicap-accessible bathroom with shower.

Although all the work is being done within the footprint of the existing building, the apparatus bay will be able to house larger equipment because the floor was lowered on the Ventnor Avenue side, and a spiral staircase that was inside the bay was moved to an exterior wall.

Those changes will provide more usable space for the firefighters and storage space for apparatus.

Tabasso said he expects that the Quint ladder truck, ambulance, rescue engine, command vehicle, reserve ambulance and personal watercraft trailer will all fit in the building. Other fire equipment is stored at Station 2 on Brunswick Avenue.

Radiant floor heating will keep the firefighters warm on the second floor, while the sidewalk around City Hall will feature a radiant ice-melt system that will help prolong the life of the concrete and decorative brick pavers.

While the work is being done on their home base, the firefighters have been operating out of the Longport Volunteer Fire Station since July 2011.

“Longport has been a tremendous ally. Not only do we work together with mutual aid, but by opening the station they are extremely generous in doing that,” Tabasso said.

The crew there responds to calls in Margate and for mutual aid in the area just as it did before. A Margate fire engine, an ambulance and a utility vehicle are stored in a heated tent outside nearby.

Tabasso said he is looking forward to a ceremony to celebrate opening the new building in the spring and said he is grateful to the city and its leaders for providing the renovations.

He said it is vital to the department’s mission to provide quality service to city residents no matter which station firefighters are responding from.

“The excellent service we provide has never been interrupted and will never be. We’ll just be in more adequate quarters,” Tabasso said. “We’ve got a really great group of people.”

Photos by Shaun Smith

The original cornerstone from Fire Station 1 is now incorporated into the front brick wall. The original cornerstone from Fire Station 1 is now incorporated into the front brick wall.   The apparatus bays facing Ventnor Avenue are still undergoing renovations. The apparatus bays facing Ventnor Avenue are still undergoing renovations.   New lockers are ready for the firefighters’ personal effects. New lockers are ready for the firefighters’ personal effects.


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