SUMMIT, NJ — Updated plans for the city’s new Fire Department Headquarters focus on training and may include a “mini Summit streetscape,” fire Chief Eric Evers revealed at the June 6 Common Council meeting.
The new firehouse will be built on Broad Street adjacent to the NJ Transit Train Station Parking Lot and will cost about $11.8 million to construct.
“One of the goals of this new building was to incorporate a lot of training features into this firehouse,” Evers said at the meeting. “Just by the design of the building, it creates a lot of open space to take advantage of so we can provide training right in our building.”
As far as the streetscape, Evers said the department is working with LeMay Erickson Willcox, a Virginia-based architectural team, to create a model of a portion of a downtown Summit street scene to aide in training activities.
The training space also will include several movable partitions so the department can set up multiple rescue scenarios. The second and third floors will house the department’s emergency operations center and training room where the department will be upgrading its technology and offer interactive training.
Evers said there will also be a couple of spaces and a dormitory-style room set aside for EOC functions, a feature that would have been utilized during the last few storms, he said.
“We learned at a lot of past events in Summit that the EOC gets very crowded and sometimes we’re there for long durations, so it involves people taking showers, so we actually have some rooms for that specific purpose,” Evers said.
The department has put an enormous focus on its decontamination area, according to battalion Chief Paul Imbimbo, who said firefighters now worry about various occupational cancers.
“One of the areas we’re not really skimping on is how we are going to protect ourselves moving forward,” he said during the presentation.
“What we’re finding out is that the gear we use during fire incidents is bringing the contamination back to the firehouse and as it off-gases, we’re being exposed not just at the fire scene but it could be for a couple days,” Imbimbo added.
The decontamination area will allow firefighters to clean off their gear in an extractor and shower in the same area. The gear storage area will have its own ventilation system to help preserve the gear and make the firehouse safer for the firefighters, Imbimbo said.
“This will make sure that the gear isn’t ventilating into any other part of the building,” he said.
Evers also said the building’s many large windows and said the goal was as much natural light as possible, in order to save on energy costs.
The bell monument at the current firehouse will be moved to the new location.
The current firehouse is included in the city’s Broad Street West Redevelopment plan, which was officially approved at the May 7 Common Council meeting and Evers anticipates construction may take place roughly between March 2020 and August 2021.
Plans for the area, which contain a little more than 10 acres of privately owned land and 6 acres of city property between Maple Street and Springfield Avenue, call for residential, retail and commercial uses. In addition to the firehouse, the redevelopment area includes City Hall, the library, post office, the local YMCA and a 125-unit senior housing complex managed by the Summit Housing Authority.
The library, YMCA, post office, City Hall and housing complex will not be moved.
The 10 acres will be split into four sub districts, each with its own set of guidelines for public open space, residential use and parking requirements.
Privately owned businesses that also are part of the existing area include: Belle Faire Cleaners, Reincarnation Salon, 7-Eleven, the Bradley, Brough & Dangler Funeral Home and its driveway, medical offices and Otterstedt Insurance.