Prince George’s County officials celebrated the Wednesday groundbreaking of a new fire station in Brandywine, thanks in part to a recent agreement that allows volunteers to continue to use their current station’s event hall.
Members of the Brandywine Volunteer Fire Department had been at odds with the county over the new $6.1 million station’s location and whether they would be able to continue to raise money and respond to emergencies from events at the current station.
County Fire/EMS spokesman Mark Brady said the agreement — signed earlier this year — arranges for the county to continue to pay for operation and upkeep at the volunteer-owned current station, located nearly two miles east of the new station, which is owned by the county. Under the at least five-year agreement, volunteers can continue to do fundraising and hold educational events at the hall, Brady said.
Although no equipment will be stored at the current station, Brady said that if Fire/EMS equipment are at the current station for an event, firefighters will be able to respond from that location, rather than returning to the new station first.
“We absolutely wouldn’t have gotten to this point had it not been for the cooperation of our volunteers,” Brady said. “I think we reached a fair and agreed upon solution.”
Kenneth Rose, president of the Brandywine Volunteer Fire Department, said it was important to be able to continue using the event hall and run the day-to-day operations of the new station.
“We have to move forward, but we got assurance [in the agreement] that the operation will be the same as they are at the current station,” Rose said. “The current [volunteer] chief will continue to run emergency operations, and the volunteers will continue to bunk here.”
The new $6.1 million facility will feature four drive-through garage bays, state of the art training and meeting rooms outfitted with computer network capabilities, as well as a training system for the use of “static” water sources, like ponds and pools.
“Here in the rural tier, there isn’t always a fire hydrant on every corner,” Brady said. “So there will be a training pump to practice drafting from static water sources.”
County Councilman Mel Franklin (D-Dist. 9) of Upper Marlboro, said that he was happy to see the county and volunteer departments settle at least some of their differences to make way for what he said was a much-needed piece of public safety infrastructure. Franklin said he was excited looking forward, with the District 7 police station in Fort Washington slated for construction soon, as well as plans for a new District 5 police station, which is currently in Clinton, budgeted for the 2014 fiscal year.
“This is a great day,” Franklin said. “In south county, we have a chip on our shoulder and say we’re not getting the infrastructure we need. This is a great first step, and we need a lot more.”