The Harford County Department of Emergency Services officially unveiled its new $32 million facility Saturday afternoon in a grand opening event which drew a wide range of first responders from across the county and region.
The expansive new building is the first of two expansions planned for the department’s Hickory headquarters; construction is expected to begin next year on a 50,000 square foot space which will house the Hazardous Materials Response Team and the Technical Rescue Team equipment, materials and office space. The second phase of construction is expected to cost an additional $10 million.
The new building houses a greatly expanded dispatch center, a significantly upgraded emergency operations center to coordinate disaster response, a new training area, as well as significant office space for fire and EMS workers. It is very likely that the building will need daily cleaning, due to its size and specially because the space will mainly be used as office space (read a good article on office cleaning and its importance here).
Following final occupancy approval by county officials, the first employees will begin moving into the building later this month, according to Department of Emergency Services Director Russell Strickland. Dispatch operations will begin moving into the building in the coming months as technical and IT planning is completed, he said.
An official release from the Department of Emergency Services is below, followed by photos from a tour of the building Saturday.
From the Harford County Department of Emergency Services:
(Forest Hill, MD) – – Approximately 300 people, including a number of local and state elected officials, fire and EMS personnel, law enforcement, emergency management and community members attended the Grand Opening ceremony for the new Department of Emergency Services facility on Saturday, November 8, 2014.
Among those in attendance were County Executive David R. Craig, County Executive Elect Barry Glassman, The Honorable Yolanda L. Curtin, Judge of the Circuit Court for Harford County, County Council President Billy Boniface, County Council President-elect Richard Slutzky, Major General Bruce T. Crawford, Commander of CECOM at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, and members of the County Council, to mention a few.
The current facility, which houses the Harford County 911 Center and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was built more than 50 years ago. The current structure was renovated in 1982 and again in 1997. The new DES facility is an estimated 66,000 square feet as compared to the existing structure of 37,800 square feet.
The new Department of Emergency Services facility will serve as home to the 911 Center, the Emergency Operations Center, Emergency Preparedness and Planning Branch, Training and Quality Assurance Branch, the Harford County Hazardous Materials Response Team, Technical Rescue Team, Community Outreach, the administrative offices of the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association and the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Foundation.
The Department of Emergency Services, previously known as the Division of Emergency Operations, works closely with the 12 independent volunteer fire and EMS departments throughout the county, as well as their representative organization, the Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association. Additionally, the Department supports local, county and state law enforcement officials in providing service to the citizens of Harford County.
The new facility was built with space to allow for expansion of services and operations during the next 25 years.
The Emergency Operations Center
Three views of the new 911 dispatch center
Radio and computer equipment
Members of the Marine Corps League Harford County Detachment stand at attention during the grand opening ceremony
Department of Emergency Services Director Russell Strickland places items in the cornerstone time capsule
County Workers United says
32 million dollars helps fund the steps/cost of living adjustments county employees have done without! I was getting my Rick Ayers calls just fine before this was built. What a waste!
Miss Gulch says
I agree. I was in the previous building and there was nothing wrong with it. Ridiculous waste of money. Who do they think they are that they can spend that hideous amount of taxpayer money on things we don’t need right now.
Please fell free to come during our next rain storm and navigate around the kiddie pools collecting water from leaks, just be careful not to go down the condemended stairwell to the radio shop. Please know what your talking about before you start spouting off.
The Money Tree says
Maintenance and repair generally can fix a leak…either that or installing a new roof. I assume there are maintenance personnel on staff? Otherwise you can just call any local roofing company to fix it and it would have cost 1/10 of 1% of building this new structure. No money for the pool in Joppa, no money to secure the historic structure at Winters Run, no money for teachers, firefighters, or police…but we can build a multimillion dollar building here and just a couple days ago David Craig purchased yet another filthy, dirty and contaminated lot(s) in HdG for well over a million bucks so they could have a path to walk their dogs.
County Worker says
Yes because having a pool in Joppa is most certainly more important than your 911 center being SAFE and up to date. No county employee should have to work in a building that has been deemed unsafe. Take a deeper look into where funds come from. You can’t give a raise with a fund that is not being replenished…. Money comes from more than one source. People are always going to have negative opinions but that doesn’t change the building being there thankfully.
The Money Tree says
With all due respect that comparison between the pool and the building is apples and oranges. There is no pool and there was an emergency services center already. This is about fixing the one that was already in use vs. spending 32M on a new one. I’m sure the residents of Joppa would be happy to fix any pool they might already have for use – the point is there isn’t one.
If the joppa residents want a pool than pay for it…. This building serves ALL of Harford County.
The Money Tree says
As did the original building serve all the county. Another mention made (not by you) here is that this previous building is over 50 years old as if the assumption is that it’s worthless and beat up. Properly constructed and maintained a 50 year old building shouldn’t be anywhere near the end of it’s useful life – I’ll remind everyone that the ugly black box was much newer and was evacuated for some time because it was a complete piece of crap and poorly constructed. New doesn’t necessarily mean better. That fact that we so easily bulldoze older buildings and destroy our own history in the process is almost unique to the US.
Hey dummytree it’s not only the structure but the systems. 1964 is a far cry from 2014, bet you still wish you could get medical care from Falston general dog and cat hospital.
Stick to ironing dummy.
Not Quite says
…you know you can renovate and update.
Hedley Lamarr says
With all the monitors it would be a great place to watch football, all they need now is a bar.
Just Asking says
What? They don’t have a bar!! Say it ain’t so…… 32 million just wasted. Surely there is a bar and deep fryer for wings. We are not that short sighted in Harford County!
And you will be the same bunch that complains that they didn’t do their job because they had antiquated building and equipment…. County cant win with some no matter what they do.
Hater gonna Hate
Bitchers gonna Bitch
Sticks & Stones says
The cost of the facility is just the beginning. Try asking about the hugely expensive ongoing operating contracts for the equipment installed. The new equipment cost is nothing compared to the annual fees that we are now locked into forever with the service providers for all the tech. What a joke.
Wait……what about the cost of Mr. Glassman bring over Richard Brooks from Cecil county????? That clown is clueless….
Same old, same old says
Leaky roof, unsafe stair wells, Hmmmm, just add contaminated water and don’t use the toilets and you’d have Youth’s Benefit Elementary School. It only took about 18 years to get that approved. I wonder how old the former emergency center was that needed a $32 million replacement that won’t be used very often (hopefully). You would think upgrades and renovations would be options.
D J Frucks says
Taxpayer doesn’t care about the cost, the fact that money has been borrowed and will have to be paid back for the next 20 years as long money is spent on things and not people. Contaminated dumps, proposed trash stations that don’t get built but the land was already purchased. the old high’s lot across from the Bel Air fire dept sits there empty as well Money available for a new arts center, schools, prisons and EMS but no raises for anyone. Hopefully, Glassman will find a balance between our structural and human resource needs..
County Worker says
The current building is over 50 years old- that’s in the article if you read more than the headline.
Looks like a bunch of flat screens and some really nice office chairs. Glad to see that Harford County
residents are on the hook for this $32 million dollars.
Harco Marco says
We don’t even have a true county fire department, and yet we need a new building to direct this non existent army of Harford Emergency Services personnel.
Techo-plush for the ruling class says
Take a good look at that. The folks paying for all that are jammed in cubicles earning less and less every year just to support the bloated flat panel government sots.
Nice to have all that techo-plush for just emergencies. Wonder what emergencies they have in mind? How often do they expect them? How long do they intend to fill the seats and watch their techo-wonderment?
Government sure doesn’t spend like we are headed in the wrong direction like most folks think. The new setting of Dr. Strangelove.
Good Golly says
This is insane. Every time I drive past I think, “Why the hell do we need a building like that for emergency services? Why on earth would it have so many people?”
This confirms it. What a waste. Especially given all the disasters we have around here! Unbelievable. How many people work there? What do they do 99.9% of the time? Seems like working there would be an additional duty, not a full time job.
County Worker says
Actually it is a 24/7 full time and on call job. Dispatchers work a rotating schedule, 5 days at a time, 365 days of the year which include all hours of the day, weekends and holidays away from their family to insure you have help if and when you need it. I hope you never need the assistance but if you do have a medical, police or fire emergency be it Christmas morning or Monday afternoon someone will be there to help you no matter your opinion on their importance. They are never important until you need them right?
32 million dollars of our tax money and I still get shaken down by the fire department every year or I have to pay for my own ride in the ambulance.
mostly blue says
How does the Fire Dept actually “shake you down”? They are a volunteer force. Just wait until you actually have to pay for fire and emergency services by paying higher property taxes. Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel all have paid fire departments and we are next…
mostly blue says
You may have to pay for your own ride in the ambulance? who should pay for your care and emergency services??? You get enough services for free or at a relatively low cost already Just expect to have the best we can afford while you don’t pay a dime for it. Are you a Tea Party member or part of the new breed of republicans?
Jim in Hickory says
Exactly what services am I getting for free now? There isn’t a single service that comes free, but someone who has never received a paycheck that didn’t come out of taxpayers pockets thinks it’s all free don’t you?
Oh hush, soldiers do the same damn thing and don’t get the luxury of flat-screens and ergonomic chairs in a $32m facility.
You don’t dispatch directly to the patrols, you merely relay the information. People get faster service when they call the precinct or fire house directly.
I guess you have not needed services in as long time. There is no way to circumvent dispatch, if your not transferred (99% of the time you are) by calling directly to a precinct you are actually prolonging your response time because you must relay the info then they have to turn around, call is and relay again. And like the poster commented the fire service is voulenteer so you are hit or miss if you get an answer and once again they can not turn a wheel until they call the information into dispatch and it’s DIAPATCHED. Get educated on how your system actually works.
Old Skool says
You should say someone will be there eventually as most people are unaware those fancy firehouses sit empty most of the time except for Paid EMS. If you live in certain areas of the County make sure your homeowners insurance covers everything since your house will most likely burn to the ground before anyone gets there.
Hedley Lamarr says
Unless its a shed
Get A Clue says
I can’t believe how ignorant some of these comments are regarding the need for upgraded Emergency Services in Harford County! This facility houses the 911 call takers, dispatchers and other emergency services mentioned by the article. When you dial 911 for an emergency situation involving the potential loss of life and/or property, this is where the call is received. Police, fire and medical personnel are dispatched from this facility and with this new communications system, to respond to YOUR emergency need anywhere in Harford County. What if antiquated facilities or failed communications infrastructure resulted in the loss of life of your loved one or the loss of your property?
I think the point is it’s overkill. I have not heard (in the past 20 years) someone dieing because the communication system broke down. Why is this center twice as big as the other one? Was 32 million necessary? I think that is what some people are wondering. No one is questioning the importance. And the earlier comment about the old center leaking? LOL. When you get a leak in your house, do you build a new house…twice as big as the old one?
Free Cheese says
Rick Ayers needed some place big enough for his Megaphone. lol. What a waste of money thanks to our Harford County Rhinos.
Tell It Like It Is says
Big enough for his ego, hot air, arrogance and his head….He is useless, but don’t ask him. He’ll tell you how important he is. Next we will tell you how most of us FD/EMS think of him.
I Agree says
Agreed, he is a legend is his own mind!
My house was built in 1954. It’s 60 years old now, guess it’s time to tear it down and build a new one.
If you still have the wiring, insulation, roof, flooring, pant, kitchen, bathroom, windows HVAC etc from 1954 I would agree, at this point tearing it down would be your best option.
Mike Welsh says
Many of the buildings on some of the most prestigious and storied learning institutions in our country are at least 100 years old. They are still in use almost every day of the week year round.
The real issue here is maintenance after the building is established. If maintained, the building will serve you for many years, assuming that it was built properly in the first place.
danny tamborino says
Sometimes buildings just outlive their useful life. The new building is going to combine some other departments we didn’t have before as we are a more urban county.. It think it will prove its worth when it is needed during catastrophe or emergency. The old building didn’t have the space, facilities for other departments, trainings or lacked accessibility that is needed today. It would be ridiculous to have or emergency headquarters evacuated during a flood, tornado or snow storm. Our EMS system is much bigger than it was then as the population has increased significantly during the past 25 years.
Not Quite says
I find it ironic the old building probably would withstand a disaster more than the new one. It had a low profile. A tornado would destroy the new one.
Harford Hillbillie says
That buildin don’t look like it could take a suenammi either, and we gets them regularity like here in hazard county just like the ternados in the mobile home estate parks.
The emergency center is not a learning institution.
Did you have a point?
danny tamborino says
Never said the main purpose would be for learning only to be used for trainings as well. Multi-purpose isn’t bad. We did it combining middle and high schools in one building and we can have an EMS center that combines other preparedness/safety/fire and or other uses. The time to complain about the building is when they proposed and approved the bonds, not after the fact. Lazy taxpayers and voters will only complain about anything that is done but wouldn’t move a finger to participate in the process..
Danny, the reply was to mike welsh not you. If you look closely at the faint thread format you would see this.
mostly blue says
I stand corrected. I think we agree on the point. The thread does indent and I didn’t see it..
Forest gump says
$32,000,000 dollars and counting, when they are done $52,000,000 dollars. That is alot of money for a group of people that have meetings about having meetings, bureaucrats sucking on the public tit. This is what you get when you combine politicians and zealots(look it up). Do they need the $16000 desks for the dispatchers, the $700 door locks, the ergonomic blow-up seats or the little steel carts to take their stuff to the locker? How about the kitchens that have higher quality equipment ($12000 stoves, $6000 refrigerators commercial dishwashers, all stainless steel) than most restaurants in Harford County. Not to mention the gym, being a bureaucrat really requires stamina, the meetings are hard on the lower back. These are not the people that are out there arresting the dirtbags that sell drugs, hit you over the head and rob you or transport you to the hospital when you fall off the roof or hose down your house when a fire breaks out. Those people risk life and limb daily. These are the people that have meetings about how they can embellish their position and spend more of the tax payers money. They all claim to be “Public servants” as if they aren’t being paid, but they are paid really well. Them, their wife or brother, cousin, more freinds and family, it is like a family tree that doesn’t branch. How would we survive without the call/e-mail/text from Rick Ayers warning us that it will be raining tomorrow make sure you bring an umbrella, how far are we from the message that states “This is emergency manager Rick Ayers with a weather warning that it will be sunny tomorrow and want to reminder all of you to apply sun screen, of course we will be activated making overtime and eating like kings until the threat subsides”. Was there any effort to economize on this facility? Of course there wasn’t, they have more giant flat screens than Looneys, it is obvious to a blind person. They got a blank check and selected all of these items because of the prices, nothing but the best for our public servants. Of course they use “fear” to justify this expense, “What if grandma is laying dying on the floor” we need state of the art equipment, they act as though when a call comes in they drive the ambulance, or fire truck to grandma’s house themselves. Is it too much to expect a little bit of economizing when you go into a project like this? This is the most blatant example of over spending for the sake of over spending, this place is a monument to the politicians that spend our money like drunken sailors (no offense to sailors). Screw the Taxpayers, we know how to spend their money better than they do, after all they have political carreers and a legacy that must be maintained. Screw the taxpayer, we have our castle!
Kevin W says
Negative people, take a breath. Unless you have been to the old facility, you may not understand the reason for the new one. But here is the bottom line, you will have a state of the art facility that will keep the responders and your community safer. By upgrading systems, training and functionality, you are all safer. Look at similar facilities like Fairfax County, VA and several in your own state. This is a needed upgrade. I agree that the price tag looks crazy but it is the unfortunate cost of emergency management. have met and worked with many of the 9-1-1 professionals that work in the facility and they are dedicated public safety professionals. Before you judge, go visit the facility and see for yourself. Then remember the words “never forget”. In personal or national tragedy, the Harford County 9-1-1 professionals will be there. They are the shepherds tending to police, fire, emergency medical and emergency management tragedies and emergencies. Would you go to a 50 year old hospital or a new state of the art hospital for a surgery? How many of you drive a 50 year old car? This building and it’s occupants should be applauded.
Oh Yeah. says
But 50 year old schools…no problem!
Oh Yeah. says
See what you can buy when you don’t give your teachers a raise for six years?
Forest Gump says
I have been in the EOC building many, many times. The new building is “FLUFF”. With logic like Kevin W uses we should have spent $100 million dollars on the new building, would we be any safer? Of course not. Harford County has way too many “shepherds” that love to spend our money like drunken sailors, including our newest shepherd Barry Glassman. How about we build a new DPW Highways facility, maybe spend $200 million on it, will our roads be better? What do you think? No wonder we have so many shepherds, Harford County citizens are sheep. We need better use of our tax revenues , who can afford these “public servants” (don’t you love it when they call themselves that) . Why do we continue to elect these self serving A-Holes? I guess we will see what the midget and the jockey have up their sleeve, only time will tell.
Mutual Aid Dispatcher says
As a 911 center employee in a nearby county, and Harford County resident, you have no idea how good we have it. This secure and modern facility will allow employees to do their jobs in the most effective and up-to-date ways possible. My center just spent $75 million to move down the hall in an existing courthouse and we don’t have close to the resources available to us that Harford County will in their new facility. Our center also has to serve a much larger population and many more employees than the new Harford County center. I am very glad that the county in which I live understands the importance of emergency services and equips their employees with the tools and facilities to do the best job possible. Trust me, the decisions made were fiscally intelligent compared to other jurisdictions in the area.
Another mutual aid dispatcher says
Ditto^^ except I live in and rely on my employment to get me help should I need it. And that’s frightening