Work was already well underway in the background, but Harford County Executive David Craig and members of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company officially broke ground on the fire service’s new Patterson Mill substation Saturday.
On a chilly morning just off Route 924, Craig and a collection of local emergency personnel and elected officials marked a project two decades in the making. Once operational, the $3.1 million building will house a fire and EMS unit and become the county’s fourth-most busy station.
The official groundbreaking, as well as actual construction, was delayed from early September by heavy rains from Tropical Storm Lee. Work crews have been on site in recent weeks, and as officials turned golden shovelfuls of dirt, heavy construction proceeded a short distance away.
Work is expected to be complete next September, when the three-bay substation will support the Abingdon Volunteer Fire Company and other operations in the southern end of the Bel Air area.
The station will be built on county-owned land not far from Patterson Mill Middle and High School. Craig said he would urge the county council next year to declare the parcel as surplus property, and turn it over to the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company.
“It [Bel Air VFC] has come a very long way from humble origins,” Craig said. “It’s one of the best service-providing companies we have in the area.”
Among those present were Bel Air Town Commissioner Chairman Eddie Hopkins and former chairman Dave Carey, who praised the company’s dedication to Bel Air when it expanded its downtown headquarters several years ago.
“It’s service area is much bigger than the town,” Carey said. “People would have understood if they wanted to be out on the bypass, to get to people easier, but they made a commitment to being in the town of Bel Air.”
The substation will be the company’s third. Hopkins, who was elected as the company’s chief on Tuesday and officially took over in a change of command ceremony shortly after the groundbreaking, said plans for a fourth are already in the works.
That station will be positioned somewhere in the Fountain Green area, recognizing the growing residential population of the region. The Patterson Mill station took precedence because the area had both commercial and residential growth, he said, while the Fountain Green area was more focused on residential expansion.
“It’s not about what we want, it’s about what the public needs,” he said.
Below: Harford County Executive David Craig (center) and members of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company break ground on the company’s new Patterson Mill substation Saturday morning.