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Hagerstown airport gets new firefighting station

August 24, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Hagerstown Regional Airport Fire Chief Phil Ridenour places his equipment in his locker for the first time Tuesday at the new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting station at Hagerstown Regional Airport. The facility was completed almost a month ahead of schedule.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN -- Local officials joined Hagerstown Regional Airport firefighters Tuesday to celebrate the opening of a new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting station at the airport.

The $2.7 million facility will house the airport's two crash rescue vehicles and one of Washington County's mass casualty trailers, airport fire chief Phil Ridenour said by telephone Monday. The building also includes dormitories for the personnel who staff the crash trucks overnight, he said.

The project got 95 percent of its funding from the Federal Aviation Administration, 2.5 percent from the state and 2.5 percent from the county, Ridenour said.

Previously, one of the crash vehicles has been housed in a modified area at the back of the airport's terminal, near the baggage area, and the other was stored on the other side of the airfield, Ridenour said.

"The vision of the airport has been, for a long time, to have a fire station so we could get all of these fire trucks in one place, rather than having them coming from several locations," he said.

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The new facility means the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting staff no longer will have to use the airport terminal facilities for training, equipment storage and sleeping space.

"Right now, we're sleeping in the terminal on air mattresses, so it's going to be quite a change for the guys to actually have a bed to lay their head on," Ridenour said.

The station is about 9,000 square feet, including the apparatus space, and many of its rooms do double-duty to save space, he said. One room is a kitchen and lounge that converts to a dormitory at night, and another is a conference room that converts to a dormitory, he said. There also is an officers' dorm, restrooms, and a hose room for equipment cleaning and storage.

The Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting company has 14 firefighters, 10 of whom work part time, Ridenour said. Of the four full-time members, one works in the airport terminal and two work on airfield maintenance when they are not performing fire and rescue duties, he said.

Ridenour said he was transferred from the county's 911 staff to the airport in 1996, when he helped establish the fire station. At the time, the airport had been without a fire company since Fairchild Aircraft closed its factory in 1984 and the fire company that served Fairchild closed with it, Ridenour said.

Design phases for the fire station project began in 2006, and a $2,396,000 construction contract was awarded in June 2009 to Building Systems Inc. of Hagerstown, Ridenour said.

Construction started Sept. 24, 2009, and is wrapping up about a month ahead of schedule and on budget, he said.

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