Kirkwood firehouse construction is underway

Kirkwood firehouse construction is underway

One of the Voorhees Fire Department’s firehouses is getting a new look.

The department covers approximately 11 square miles occupied by more than 30,000 residents. Fire and EMS responders operate in two facilities with more than 25 full-time officers and more than 39 volunteers.

Construction is in progress at the Kirkwood Fire Station and is expected to be completed by early fall.

In response to growing population, in 1995, four fire districts consolidated to one reducing the number of township stations by 50 percent, eliminating duplicated services and cutting back on 10 district vehicles, Fire Chief Jim Pacifico said.

But the aging firehouse could no longer keep up with the demand.

“This project has been evolving since 1995, and we came to a point in time when action was desperately needed. We could no longer repair the station with a modification or a patch,” he said.

According to Pacifico, the firehouse had infrastructure repair issues, including issues with the electric, plumbing, HVAC, concrete floors, driveway, bathrooms not being ADA compliant, draining issues and more.

He said the fire station did not have an emergency generator or a sprinkler system. The fire alarm system was also not up to code.

The sleeping quarters had to be fixed since the original posed a “significant health and safety issue,” he said, adding the facility’s disrepair eliminated it from being used as an emergency evacuation shelter.

“This is just a sample of the issues that we are faced with daily,” he said.

In August 2008, the fire district included capital funds for the firehouse project that was added to the referendum, allowing the district to go out for bonds on the project.

The cost was estimated at $5.5 million.

Pacifico said no federal or state funding was available to aid the building, but the district sought and received grants “saving the community more than $500,000.”

The project will be on the budget until 2029, he said.

On top of a new facility, the new 19,000-square-foot firehouse would also include new training components and a community room.

“The new station has been designed to meet the needs of the community well past the year 2060,” he said.