FIREFIGHTERS Officials hope to consolidate facilities

Officials would like the new facility to be located on or near Belmont Avenue.
LIBERTY -- The adage that two heads are better than one doesn't apply to firehouses, township officials say.
Aging buildings, a steep hill and increased response times are some of the reasons township officials are considering closing two fire stations and creating a new centralized facility.
Officials would like the new facility to be located on or near Belmont Avenue, said Pat Ungaro, township administrator.
"I think this is something that we need to do," Ungaro said. "The buildings are old and we should be located closer to the business area."
Both of the township's facilities are more than 30 years old, township officials said.
"We have just outgrown the two stations," said Fire Chief Michael Durkin.
The station located on the north end of Belmont Avenue was built in the early 1970s and has constant maintenance problems, said trustee Jack Simon.
"The Belmont station sits down low and we are always having septic problems," Simon said.
Durkin noted that another problem with the Belmont facility is there is not room on the land to expand.
The other fire station on Loganway is located near a steep hill.
'Kills our response time'
"When we leave the station it's uphill, and that kills our response time," Durkin said. "The hill adds at least a minute and in an emergency every minute is needed."
The stations are also too small to house new firetrucks and equipment, which are now built larger, the chief said.
"What we have is just way too small," the chief said. "Plus I think it is important to have teamwork, and the way we are set up now we have two firefighters at each facility. With one station we would all be together."
Officials have looked at a few locations on Belmont Avenue and are continuing their search.
"We want something south of 304 on Belmont because that's about the center of the township," Durkin said. "We also need something that's affordable."
Ungaro said he hopes officials can find a location and get moving on the project soon. Both he and Durkin said they would like to have a new building by next year.

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