Taxpayers approve bonding for new station

Plans for a new fire station on Main Street are moving forward, after a vote by taxpayers last week approved the Long Hill Fire District bonding up to $7 million to build the new facility.

The new station will be built near the current Station 2 at 5404 Main St. The district purchased surrounding properties, in order to build a larger facility. The proposed building is 19,000 square feet, while the current station is about 5,000 square feet.

The fire district held an informational meeting on the proposal May 16 and had a vote last Thursday. Long Hill Fire District Commissioner John Mellardo said the district was hoping for a better turnout — 41 district taxpayers came to vote — but they are grateful for the approval and said it’s much needed.

“The new building will be a lot safer, more efficient and allow us a lot more flexibility to move into the future,” Mellardo said.

Before proposing a new station, the district had explored renovations to all three current stations, but found it would be cost-prohibitive.

The Station 2 building dates to the early 1930s and the fire department has long outgrown it, Mellardo said. The bay where vehicles are kept wasn’t built to support heavy modern fire apparatus. The garage is also built above a working area, leading to concerns about a potential floor collapse if the weight of vehicles is too much.

The current station will be razed once the new facility is built.

Mellardo said there are several reasons why they believe the new station is important. Responding to and returning from calls with fire vehicles will be safer with the new facility, since the firefighters won’t have to pull out into the street to turn around. The Station 2 training room currently only fits 25 people, but the new facility will allow for larger training sessions for volunteers. During recent large storms, the station wasn’t large enough to accommodate crews 24/7 and only has one bathroom.

The new building will also meet current OSHA and National Fire Protection Association standards.

The fire district still has a lot of work to do, finalizing the proposal, going to before town boards for approvals and setting up the bonding process. The project likely won’t go out to bid until the end of the year, he said. Once construction starts, it will likely take a year to complete.