Published: Sunday, August 22, 2010, 5:52 AM | Star Ledger

Tomas Dinges/For the Star-Ledger

HANOVER — For decades, the firefighters at the Whippany Fire Station have had double duty when it rained hard. They had to put materials and supplies on the second floor, take fire engines to another location and prepare sandbags to keep rising floodwaters out of the building. And, they had to respond to emergencies.

Now, firefighters can envision a day in which they can spend all their time taking care of citizens that need their help. A new, approximately $3.5 million facility is expected to be completed around the spring of 2012, said fire officials. It will be located around the corner on Troy Hills Road, near Route 10, and, more importantly, out of the flood zone.

The current station was built near the Whippany River in 1923. Fire officials have long contemplated moving to a new building, but only recently did they figure out how to pay for it. “It would have been easier if we had gone out on a bond,” said Fred Brunner Jr., president of the Whippany Fire Company, which owns the land and the building, and is coordinating the move.

Instead, the company will finance the project with revenue from a cell-phone tower on the property, savings from the fire department budget and private donations, Brunner said.

Recently, the developer of Whippany Village, a retail project on the land surrounding the firehouse, offered to swap land on nearby Troy Hills Road for the firehouse property.

While the contract has yet to be finalized, Brunner is optimistic. The move is good for the developer because more land will be available for retail space that faces Route 10, Brunner said. And, “it’s good for us to be out of the flood zone,” he said. ”…It gets a little crazy at times.” Currently, when heavy rain is forecasted, the fire company spends two days preparing the fire station for a potential flood, Brunner said.

Emergency equipment and supplies get moved to the second floor. When the rain comes, firefighters slide in oak barriers at the entrance of the two bays and buttress them with sandbags, Brunner said. After years of discussing the design, a relocation committee decided on a building double the size of the current space. It will have five bays for vehicles, more space in front of the building, a room for storing and putting on gear and offices for the fire commission.

More space and less flooding means more resources dedicated to fighting fire, Whippany Fire Chief Joseph Cortright said. “It’ll be just a huge improvement, in that aspect,” he said.
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