by Karen Sangillo
Northampton Township is getting not one but two brand new firehouses.
Both Fire Station No. 3 at 50 Newtown-Richboro Road in Richboro and Station No. 73 at 451 East Holland Road in Holland have been demolished and are being replaced.
The Richboro station was built in 1964 and the Holland station in 1966.
“They’ve outlived their useful lives,” said Northampton Township fire chief Adam Selisker, who is also the chairman of the township’s board of supervisors. “We did look at updating and it wasn’t feasible in either case. The buildings are just too old and they are not up to current safety standards.”
The board of supervisors had been discussing the project for years before moving forward.
“This wasn’t something we rushed into,” Selisker said. “We’re only going to do this once, and we wanted to do it right.”
The board awarded contracts on January 26th to ER Stuebner Inc. of Reading for general construction; JBM Mechanical of Nazareth for plumbing; Phillips Brothers Electrical Contractors of Glenmoore for electrical; and JBM Mechanical for heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
The cost for both stations will be $27,983,000.
Funds to cover the costs are from a bond issue the board authorized in 2021.
The buildings will be constructed simultaneously and the anticipated completion date is June 2023.
The fire department will operate out of the former police headquarters on Township Road until construction is complete.
“These stations were built in the 1960’s when the fire department was strictly volunteers,” Selisker said. “Now, as we have a combination of career fire fighters working in the stations all day and volunteers as well, we have a different set of needs.
“We have been transitioning to a combination of career and volunteer fire fighters. Although we have great volunteers, that number is dwindling around the country and Northampton is no exception. It’s very difficult to get a lot of volunteers and we don’t want anyone call 911 and have to wait for a fire truck.
“We did not have proper facilities for overnight bunking for men and women. We want to be a diverse employer, that’s very important to us, so we need to have separate facilities.”
Enhanced safety is also a top priority.
“We will have very specific areas for segregation of equipment and cleaning of equipment for cancer prevention,” Selisker said. “Fire fighters tend to have higher cancer rates that most other people due to the combustion products they are exposed to.
“Also, the diesel trucks will have better ventilation so if a truck starts and leaves the station, it won’t leave the bay with a half hour of smoke that seeps into the office. We owe it to our first responders to give them a safe place that’s free of hazards.
“We spent a lot of time researching so that we could come up with buildings that meet the current standards and anticipate future use. It’s an investment for the community, and police and fire safety are at the top of the list. We want to make sure the people of Northampton, the businesses and the visitors, are all safe.”