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Services could share facility

June 18, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County government has proposed a multimillion dollar facility that would consolidate several of the county's emergency services centers, county officials said Monday.

Officials said the proposed building is necessary because the existing centers are outdated and have insufficient space. They also said a new facility would better protect Washington County residents.

The proposed facility, which is being called the Emergency Operations Center, would house Washington County's Fire and Rescue Communications (911) Center.

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It also would house the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and the Special Operations Team, according to the county's Capital Improvement Program for fiscal years 2003-2008.

The project also might include the construction of a countywide fire, emergency management services and law enforcement training facility, the capital plan states.

The plan lists the cost of the land and engineering and design plans at $1 million.

County Administrator Rodney Shoop said he didn't know how much the facility's construction would cost and that the county has not begun looking for land.

Joe Kroboth, the county's director of emergency services, said the facility would be a multimillion dollar project.

The county would choose a site for the building in fiscal 2003, purchase the land in 2004, complete the design in 2005 and construct it in 2006-07, the plan states.

He said the current 911 center is cramped in the basement of 33 W. Washington St. He said the department has increased in size and has added equipment.

"We outgrew it," Shoop said. "And now it's become a high priority as a result of our war against terrorism."

The Volunteer Fire and Rescue building on Pennsylvania Avenue lacks room for meetings, and the Special Operations Team is located in the old Maryland State Highway Administration building on Frederick Street, he said.

Kroboth said the proposed facility should be in or near Hagertown's city limits to accommodate city emergency service providers and the police department.

"If it were in Williamsport or Clear Spring, for example, it's unlikely that the city fire chief, police chief or mayor and council would want to use our facility," he said.

Shoop said details of the proposed building will be discussed over the coming months and that the plan might change.

"Nothing is concrete," he said.

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