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From NEWSDAY.COM. Ridge fire district voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to vote on a $14 million bond that would pay for a new main firehouse on Francis Mooney Drive.
District officials are asking voters to approve a plan to demolish the fire department’s 19,000-square-foot headquarters and build a new 24,000-square-foot facility in its place. The larger building would include new storage space and a room where firefighters can change into their gear, district officials said.
If approved, the bond would increase fire district annual taxes by $178.09 on an average home assessed at $2,215, according a presentation prepared by fire district officials.
Jeffrey Campo, chairman of the Ridge board of fire commissioners, said the firehouse, which was built in 1941 and expanded in 1962 and 1982, is too small for the larger trucks the fire department uses. Roof leaks and other problems have made the building obsolete, he said.
“We’re out of room in our house,” Campo said in an interview. “It’s just one thing after another.”
Campo said a changing room in the new firehouse would enhance safety for the department’s 130 volunteers. He said firefighters currently put on their gear in the bays, just inches away from trucks as they prepare to respond to calls. He said several firefighters have been injured as they put on their gear.
“It’s very dangerous during alarms, as far as getting on the road,” Campo said. “You’re running in front of the truck bays.”
Campo said the bond would pay for a new training room and space for the department’s emergency medical technicians. Truck bays would be wider, and the new facility would have a washer and dryer system to clean fire gear of contaminants that collect on firefighter uniforms.
Ridge firefighters and EMTs responded to 2,865 alarms last year, Campo said. The department serves a 28-square-mile area that includes Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton.
The district formed a community advisory board two years ago to help develop the plan, Campo said. District officials have met with community groups and residents to pitch the proposal.
Dan Tomaszewski, a Longwood school board member who is on the community advisory board, said replacing the firehouse is “way past due,” citing the department’s use of a piece of tin and a hose to divert water from a roof leak.
“The community’s excited about it,” he said of the proposal. “I think the community is going to be very happy with the project.”
Ridge Civic Association president Lee Brooks, who also serves on the advisory board, said replacing the firehouse is “an absolute necessity.”
“It’s literally falling apart,” she said. “It’s more costly to repair every year than the cost of replacing [it].”
Voting will take place from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the firehouse, 20 Francis Mooney Dr.