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HomeNewsArchivesWork Finally Begins on New North Side Fire Station

Work Finally Begins on New North Side Fire Station

May 18, 2009 — After years of headaches — openings and closings, storm damage, threats of a lawsuit by disgruntled North Side residents — the beleaguered Dorothea Fire Station is about to come into its own: The old wooden structure won't be remodeled, but instead a state-of-the-art, two-story, multipurpose facility will be constructed.
The groundwork began as scheduled Monday. Daryl A. George, Fire Services assistant director, was all smiles as he detailed the project. He called Monday "a good day for the Fire Service."
George has long supported residents' cries for full-time fire protection. The long-awaited project began 15 years ago, he said, as a self-help endeavor by the Fire Service personnel, but the project has suffered numerous interruptions and delays.
The V.I. Fire Service is essential to the safety of North Side residents. The Fire Service has estimated it would take firetrucks 35 minutes to get from the downtown station to a North Side fire.
The Dorothea facility is the only fire station on the North Side. It reopened in June 2002 after having been closed for three and a half years and having undergone extensive renovations. However, within a year, it closed again. At the time, Fire Service officials said the action was taken after several firefighters retired and five others in the V.I. National Guard were called to active duty in Iraq.
The station has had problems ranging from rat infestations to personnel shortages — to say nothing of repairing the extensive damage wrought by Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.
In a 2007 town meeting with the Northside Civic Association, Gov. John deJongh Jr. assured residents that rebuilding the fire station was one of his top capital projects to be completed within his term.
The new station will have a staff of six, George said Monday. It will be a two-story, state-of-the-art facility far exceeding the dreams of North Side residents, who have battled for years simply to adequately staff the current wooden building. George said the bid for the work was recently awarded to Brian Chick Construction Service (BCCS), a local firm.
The new structure will be built partially on the existing foundation, adjacent to the wooden structure. It will have two and a half bays for the firetrucks and be staffed with six fire officers, with separate quarters for male and female officers. It will have a day room, a laundry room and a state-of-the-art kitchen and dining room. There will be a parking area in the back.
Beyond that, the building will house a substation for police and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and have a large conference room.
The new building is being financed through a $500,00 appropriation from the General Fund and $390,000 from the Public Finance Authority. George said its anticipated cost is $877,000.
Though it is scheduled to be completed in 14 months, George and contractor Chick say it may be ready sooner.
"We are hoping to get it done in nine months, bringing in a workforce of 10 to 15," Chick said Monday. "Part of what they already had will be utilized, and portions of a new foundation. Of course, that will extend into hurricane season."
Materials were brought on site Monday.
"We'd like to have the slabs for the parking area by the end of the month," Chick said.
The engineering and architectural work for the project is being done "in-house," George said. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls came up with that plan, George said.
"It's part of a new capital project initiative," he said.
Looking at potential challenges in the construction, George said the Fire Service has met with Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen to assess water resources in an attempt to make sure there is no or minimal interruption in water for farmers.
Community activist Jason Budsan, was temporarily stunned by the news, but not for long.
"It's fantastic news," he said. "It's truly wonderful, wonderful. I remember when the firemen started the project so many years ago. They always wanted to get it going. It's great news for the whole island."
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May 18, 2009 -- After years of headaches -- openings and closings, storm damage, threats of a lawsuit by disgruntled North Side residents -- the beleaguered Dorothea Fire Station is about to come into its own: The old wooden structure won't be remodeled, but instead a state-of-the-art, two-story, multipurpose facility will be constructed.
The groundwork began as scheduled Monday. Daryl A. George, Fire Services assistant director, was all smiles as he detailed the project. He called Monday "a good day for the Fire Service."
George has long supported residents' cries for full-time fire protection. The long-awaited project began 15 years ago, he said, as a self-help endeavor by the Fire Service personnel, but the project has suffered numerous interruptions and delays.
The V.I. Fire Service is essential to the safety of North Side residents. The Fire Service has estimated it would take firetrucks 35 minutes to get from the downtown station to a North Side fire.
The Dorothea facility is the only fire station on the North Side. It reopened in June 2002 after having been closed for three and a half years and having undergone extensive renovations. However, within a year, it closed again. At the time, Fire Service officials said the action was taken after several firefighters retired and five others in the V.I. National Guard were called to active duty in Iraq.
The station has had problems ranging from rat infestations to personnel shortages -- to say nothing of repairing the extensive damage wrought by Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.
In a 2007 town meeting with the Northside Civic Association, Gov. John deJongh Jr. assured residents that rebuilding the fire station was one of his top capital projects to be completed within his term.
The new station will have a staff of six, George said Monday. It will be a two-story, state-of-the-art facility far exceeding the dreams of North Side residents, who have battled for years simply to adequately staff the current wooden building. George said the bid for the work was recently awarded to Brian Chick Construction Service (BCCS), a local firm.
The new structure will be built partially on the existing foundation, adjacent to the wooden structure. It will have two and a half bays for the firetrucks and be staffed with six fire officers, with separate quarters for male and female officers. It will have a day room, a laundry room and a state-of-the-art kitchen and dining room. There will be a parking area in the back.
Beyond that, the building will house a substation for police and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and have a large conference room.
The new building is being financed through a $500,00 appropriation from the General Fund and $390,000 from the Public Finance Authority. George said its anticipated cost is $877,000.
Though it is scheduled to be completed in 14 months, George and contractor Chick say it may be ready sooner.
"We are hoping to get it done in nine months, bringing in a workforce of 10 to 15," Chick said Monday. "Part of what they already had will be utilized, and portions of a new foundation. Of course, that will extend into hurricane season."
Materials were brought on site Monday.
"We'd like to have the slabs for the parking area by the end of the month," Chick said.
The engineering and architectural work for the project is being done "in-house," George said. Public Works Commissioner Darryl Smalls came up with that plan, George said.
"It's part of a new capital project initiative," he said.
Looking at potential challenges in the construction, George said the Fire Service has met with Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen to assess water resources in an attempt to make sure there is no or minimal interruption in water for farmers.
Community activist Jason Budsan, was temporarily stunned by the news, but not for long.
"It's fantastic news," he said. "It's truly wonderful, wonderful. I remember when the firemen started the project so many years ago. They always wanted to get it going. It's great news for the whole island."
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.