Delmar-Bethlehem (NY) EMS had been renting three apparatus bays in the Delmar Fire Department’s station for its three ambulances and leasing a house across the street that served as EMS crew quarters, office space, and storage. But when Delmar Fire needed more space for its fire apparatus, and Delmar-Bethlehem EMS needed more space than the rental house afforded, the EMS agency knew it was time to find a new home.
“Delmar Fire was a great partner for many years, and we wanted to stay in the north part of town, so we approached the town of Bethlehem to see if they had anything available to us,” says Steven Kroll, chief and executive director of Delmar-Bethlehem EMS. “We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and did not have the resources to build a multimillion facility on our own, so we looked to the town to help find land and financing.”
The solution was renovation of an existing town building that served the sewer and highway departments and as police storage after the town purchased an adjacent building for the highway department. “Delmar-Bethlehem EMS gave us a conceptual diagram of what they would like, which we turned over to our architect,” Paul Penman, Bethlehem town engineer, says. “We were able to satisfy most of their wishes, but they didn’t get everything they wanted because they had to share some apparatus space with the sewer department.”
The 17,200-square-foot building was completely redesigned, renovated and rebuilt, Penman says, in less than two years. “Delmar-Bethlehem EMS has the entire second floor and 4,000 square feet for three apparatus bays on the first floor,” he notes, “while the sewer department has 4,000 feet of apparatus space and 1,200 feet of storage.”
Kroll says that the town owns the facility, and that Delmar-Bethlehem EMS is the primary tenant. “The town bonded sufficient funds and used reserve funds to pay for the design and reconstruction of the building,” he says. “They built us a first-class EMS station.”
On the EMS side of the first-floor space, the town built in a decon room, EMS storage, a restroom, laundry room, and mass casualty incident supply room, Kroll points out. “We didn’t want to have to carry laundry or equipment up and down stairs,” he notes.
The second floor has a large training/meeting room; a day room for the EMS crews; a full kitchen; two secured areas with keycard access; the sleeping quarters of six crew bedrooms; a male toilet/shower/locker room; a female toilet/shower/locker room; and the corporate office space, which has offices for a paid administrator, the chief, captain, line officers, as well as a records room, charting room, and information technology room.
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Penman adds that because the town needed a training facility for the highway department, the training/meeting room on the second floor of the EMS space was enlarged to accommodate town department and committee meetings when not being used for EMS training. “Eventually, the Department of Public Works is looking to build a facility where the water and sewer departments are housed together,” he says, “and when that happens we’ll put in a permanent standby generator, and Delmar-Bethlehem EMS will get to use the other 4,000 feet of bay space on the first floor.”
ALAN M. PETRILLO is a Tucson, Arizona-based journalist, the author of three novels and five nonfiction books, and a member of the Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment Editorial Advisory Board. He served 22 years with the Verdoy (NY) Fire Department, including in the position of chief.