NJ town cuts ribbon at new $10M fire and EMS station

Personnel are expected to start working from the new 30,000-square-foot station early next year


George Woolston
Burlington County Times, Willingboro, N.J.

WILLINGBORO, N.J. — Christmas came early for the Willingboro Fire and EMS Department.

Township officials gathered Wednesday to cut the ribbon at the department's brand new, over 30,000-square-feet fire station.

This concept image shows the design for the new Willingboro Fire Department's fire and EMS station. The department is expected to move into the new station early next year.
This concept image shows the design for the new Willingboro Fire Department's fire and EMS station. The department is expected to move into the new station early next year. (Photo/Willingboro Fire Department Facebook)

The milestone marks over a decade of the department working to get its members a new home.

"This is something that is a longtime coming and is well deserved. This has been 10 years in the making," said Willingboro fire and EMS Chief Anthony Burnett on Wednesday.

Around 2008, the department began looking to renovate its original firehouse, located at the intersection of John F. Kennedy Way and Charleston Road.

Built in 1960 for an all-volunteer department, the original firehouse was beginning to deteriorate and was not suited for a modern-day, 24-hour operation. There was also a mold problem in the basement that left it unusable.

Burnett said after finding out the cost of renovating the original building would be almost as much as building a new one, the department approached the township council about new construction, and the council agreed.

After a number of proposals came in over budget, the township council awarded a $10.1 million contract to Ogren Construction. The total project cost, including construction, all design costs and professional costs from inception to Wednesday's ribbon-cutting, was just under $12 million, according to township officials.

The new building features state-of-the-art sleeping quarters, training areas and offices, a big step up from where the department has spent the last two or so years and from the original building.

"Finally a state-of-the-art building for Willingboro," Mayor Martin Nock said before Wednesday's festivities. "We are pleased to be able to finally have a quality building for our fire department, because before they were sleeping on cots, sharing offices, and it wasn't a proper place for the fire department. ... They were in the way of each other and it wasn't safe."

"We had five twin beds in a 10-feet by 13-feet room, and it was starting to deteriorate," said Willingboro Fire and EMS Deputy Chief Jamie Clark. "The building served its purpose, but for what today's operation needed, it wasn't suited for it."

In March of 2017, the department moved out of the original building and into its temporary home, the Joseph A. McGinley Elementary School building, as demolition began.

Construction on the new building began in January 2018 on the same site as the original firehouse, and the department is expected to move in early next year.

The new building will have 17 individual bunk rooms and can sleep 19 personnel. The fire department has 22 full-time firefighters and 22 per diem EMTs, according to Burnett, as well as volunteer firefighters.

"This is their home for 24 hours," Burnett said of the firefighters' 24-hour shifts. "We are very anxious to move in."

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©2019 Burlington County Times, Willingboro, N.J.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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