Ditrict 3 firehouse nearing completion

Setbacks mean construction of the firehouse on Centre Drive won’t be finished until spring.

By: Leon Tovey
   MONROE — A new District 3 firehouse on Centre Drive should be open by mid-March, officials said this week.
   The 15,000-square-foot building has been under construction for a year and was originally slated for completion by late September 2005, but inclement weather and problems with subcontractors have delayed work on the project, District 3 Fire Commissioner Peter Lumia said Monday.
   "It’s nothing too unusual," Mr. Lumia said of the delay. "It’s not something I like, but you’ve got to grit your teeth and go along with it."
   The general contractor on the $2.8 million project, Diversified Contracting Inc. of Belmar, was initially given 270 days to complete work when the contract was awarded in November 2004, but a 45-day extension was granted in September, pushing the deadline back to mid-November, Township Business Administrator Wayne Hamilton said.
   Mr. Lumia said district officials have not made a decision as to whether they will penalize the developer for the further delay. At a recent meeting with district officials, the contractor promised to have work completed by the end of February, he said. This would allow firefighters to move into the new station by mid-March.
   The new station will provide office space for District 3 headquarters, dormitories for fire and emergency personnel and storage space for equipment. It will have three bays for fire vehicles and equipment and a fourth to accommodate two emergency vehicles.
   It will be staffed by 16 full-time firefighters, all of whom have already been selected and are ready to start work as soon as the station is ready, District 3 Chief Jim Beebe said Monday.
   The new station is intended to help firefighters in District 3 cut response times to its western section — an area that includes Rossmoor, Greenbriar at Whittingham and the warehouse district on Costco Drive.
   The response time from the district’s current base of operations, the Central Monroe Volunteer Fire Department fire station on School House Road near its intersection with Buckelew Avenue, is around 12 minutes.
   The National Fire Protection Association, a national nonprofit fire-prevention advocacy group, recommends a response time of five minutes or less for departments of comparable size to Monroe.
   Voters in Fire District 3 approved a $1.9 million referendum on the project in February 2003. The remaining cost of the project will be covered by the township, which has allotted $1.125 million for the Emergency Medical Services section of the building.
   Judy Olbrys, director of the township’s Emergency Medical Service, said Monday the station would be staffed by reserve units from the township’s two other EMS stations on Monmouth Road and at the Municipal Complex.