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