Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tenley Firehouse Reopens!!

After how many years of discussion? How many stops and starts? How much taxpayer money wasted?

The historic Tenleytown firehouse, Company 20 finally reopens . This is a releif to thousands of upper Northwest residents who have endured a patchwork (but hurculean and heroic) effort on the part of the DCFD to properly serve and protect the citizens.

From the article:

A historic Northwest firehouse is open again, after a renovation project took four times longer than expected and cost more than double what was budgeted.
"The main thing is, we're in," D.C. fire department Capt. Kenneth Crosswhite, who is stationed at the remodeled Engine 20 in Tenleytown, said yesterday. "And we've actually improved the service to the community."
Firefighters returned Oct. 14, four years and four months after what was slated to be a one-year project began in June 2002. Officials say the cost of renovating the 1901 firehouse ballooned from the $2.9 million that was originally budgeted to about $7 million.
Engine 20 is now a paramedic-engine company, meaning that one firefighter on each shift is a certified paramedic. It also is home to a ladder truck and an ambulance, and serves as the headquarters for the 5th battalion chief.
The firehouse has at least 50 percent more space, with a larger kitchen and bathroom facilities. The most obvious addition is the two new drive-through bays with 13-foot doors. They replace doors originally designed for horse-drawn fire wagons through which only older, smaller vehicles could fit.
"Having the wider doors decreases response times because you're not slowing down as much," Capt. Crosswhite said.
However, some problems still exist.
Firefighters are sharing space with construction workers, who are completing the renovations at the station, on Warren Street Northwest. Some exterior work also remains, such as laying sod and a sidewalk and fixing a large crack in the building's facade.
"Everything that remains to be done now is superficial," said Alan Etter, a fire department spokesman. However, he acknowledged the project "took too long, no question about it."
The $2.9 million renovation contract was awarded in July 2002 to District-based HRGM Corp. A dispute was raised about construction issues, and city officials fired the company in July 2003, saying it had defaulted on the contract.
Officials rebid the contract and selected Garcete Construction Co. Inc., increasing the budget to $3.9 million. The work was supposed to be completed by last August, but the city granted an extension to the contractor.
An official rededication ceremony and open house is scheduled for Nov. 4. The event also will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the house's designation as Engine 20.

By Matthew Cella
Published October 21, 2006

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