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Finding Common Ground: Riverdale and Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Departments Discuss Consolidation

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§ Finding Common Ground: Riverdale and Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Departments Discuss Consolidation

Following is the second in a series of "guest spots." From time to time I will invite councilmembers to use this page regarding matters they believe will be of interest to residents. - Ann Ferguson

by Chris Davis

After almost a decade of being just words on a page of the Prince George's County master plan for fire services, a long-time goal of consolidating two local departments has come to life with a multimillion-dollar county budget appropriation. As part of continuing efforts to cope with the difficulties created by aging buildings and a decreasing volunteer staff, the county is hoping to consolidate the Riverdale and Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Departments into one superstation.

Meetings have been held for the past several months among members of the Prince George's County Fire Department, the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department, the Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Department, the Town of Riverdale Park, and the Riverdale Heights Civic Association. At a March meeting County Fire Chief Ron Sarnicki discussed the need for consolidating fire resources throughout the county and explained the process using the Bunker Hill station, which is currently being constructed near the District of Columbia in Mt. Rainier. The Riverdale/Riverdale Heights consolidation will be the third in the county in recent years.

The new station, to be built on three acres within the corporate boundaries of Riverdale Park halfway between the two existing stations, will offer the latest technology in an impressive two-story brick structure. Similar to the station in College Park on Route 1, the new facility will easily house both departments' equipment (many residents will recall that an addition was hastily built onto the town's 60-year-old station to house the tower truck, which was too large to fit into the

building). The new station will include, among other amenities, a 100-seat rental hall; dorm rooms for fire-fighting students from the University of Maryland; and a "safe foyer," a well-lit area inside the station for people seeking shelter or assistance from police and fire personnel. In the Bunker Hill station, the safe foyer also includes an ATM machine.

Two committees will work to develop the station building, which will be owned by the county. Prince George's, Riverdale, and Riverdale Heights fire personnel will design the station's interior and public safety features. Riverdale Park officials and residents and members of the Riverdale Heights Civic Association will work on exterior issues, such as architectural details and landscaping. The entire process, from land acquisition to dedication of the new facility, will take approximately three years to complete.

Both the Riverdale and Riverdale Heights companies will remain as separate corporations within the new station. Each company is expected to continue to respond in its respective first-due area. Paid county personnel will also continue to work in the station. All three entities will work together to offer high-quality emergency services to the surrounding community.

As the work progresses, a public hearing will be held to unveil the plans and seek resident input. Watch the Town Crier in the coming months for more information.

Chris Davis, Ward 4 Councilmember, is Chair of the Public Safety Committee.

Mayor's Report

Following is the second in a series of "guest spots." From time to time I will invite councilmembers to use this page regarding matters they believe will be of interest to residents. - Ann Ferguson

Finding Common Ground: Riverdale and Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Departments Discuss Consolidation

by Chris Davis

After almost a decade of being just words on a page of the Prince George's County master plan for fire services, a long-time goal of consolidating two local departments has come to life with a multimillion-dollar county budget appropriation. As part of continuing efforts to cope with the difficulties created by aging buildings and a decreasing volunteer staff, the county is hoping to consolidate the Riverdale and Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Departments into one superstation.

Meetings have been held for the past several months among members of the Prince George's County Fire Department, the Riverdale Volunteer Fire Department, the Riverdale Heights Volunteer Fire Department, the Town of Riverdale Park, and the Riverdale Heights Civic Association. At a March meeting County Fire Chief Ron Sarnicki discussed the need for consolidating fire resources throughout the county and explained the process using the Bunker Hill station, which is currently being constructed near the District of Columbia in Mt. Rainier. The Riverdale/Riverdale Heights consolidation will be the third in the county in recent years.

The new station, to be built on three acres within the corporate boundaries of Riverdale Park halfway between the two existing stations, will offer the latest technology in an impressive two-story brick structure. Similar to the station in College Park on Route 1, the new facility will easily house both departments' equipment (many residents will recall that an addition was hastily built onto the town's 60-year-old station to house the tower truck, which was too large to fit into the

building). The new station will include, among other amenities, a 100-seat rental hall; dorm rooms for fire-fighting students from the University of Maryland; and a "safe foyer," a well-lit area inside the station for people seeking shelter or assistance from police and fire personnel. In the Bunker Hill station, the safe foyer also includes an ATM machine.

Two committees will work to develop the station building, which will be owned by the county. Prince George's, Riverdale, and Riverdale Heights fire personnel will design the station's interior and public safety features. Riverdale Park officials and residents and members of the Riverdale Heights Civic Association will work on exterior issues, such as architectural details and landscaping. The entire process, from land acquisition to dedication of the new facility, will take approximately three years to complete.

Both the Riverdale and Riverdale Heights companies will remain as separate corporations within the new station. Each company is expected to continue to respond in its respective first-due area. Paid county personnel will also continue to work in the station. All three entities will work together to offer high-quality emergency services to the surrounding community.

As the work progresses, a public hearing will be held to unveil the plans and seek resident input. Watch the Town Crier in the coming months for more information.

Chris Davis, Ward 4 Councilmember, is Chair of the Public Safety Committee.

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