By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
VENTNOR – The Board of Commissioners March 14 awarded a contract to rebuild Ventnor City Fire Station No. 2 on Wellington Avenue, which no longer meets National Fire Protection Association and Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations for critical infrastructure buildings and is beyond repair, officials say.
The commission awarded a $3.17 million contract to Fabbri Builders, Inc. of Vineland. Fabbri was the lowest of 11 qualified bidders with its submission of a $3,158,780 base bid and $15,770 alternate bid. The highest bid from Shore Buildings Contractors of Hammonton came in at a total of $3.88 million, but the top five bidders were very close, officials said.
“It was very tight,” Fire Chief Michael Cahill said. “The top five bidders were all within $200,000.”
“It was very competitive,” Commissioner Lance Landgraf said. “What that tells me is that the bid package was done very well.”
He commended Cahill and Commissioner of Public Safety Tim Kriebel for collaborating on the bid specifications.
“Chief Cahill stepped up with his basic knowledge on the ground of what was needed,” Kriebel said.
The winning bid was very close to Cahill’s estimate of the cost, which he said was about $2.9 million.
“Coming from a firefighter standpoint, it included what I though was needed. But then, you have to add on all the requirements for ADA compliance that I was not aware of,” he said. “Although our firefighters don’t need it, we had to add an elevator, which added to the cost. All the requirements for building added to the bottom line.”
Nevertheless, Cahill said the bids were as close as they could be to the architect’s estimate.
“We had a lot of meetings with the architect, Building Department, engineers and the commissioners,” he said. “I am content with the process and how it worked out, and I’m super happy with the support from the commissioners and staff at City Hall.”
Cahill said he had a pre-construction meeting with the builder on Friday, and the plan is to start construction in mid-April. It will take about a year to build.
“As soon as all the permits are received from the city, which should take two or three weeks, the existing firehouse will be demolished,” Cahill said.
The alternate bid includes an upgrade to the firehouse doors. The original architectural plans called for solid wood doors, but the National Fire Protection Association recommends that firehouse doors be made of glass for better visibility, Cahill said.
The design of the new firehouse will fit in well with other public buildings in the city and will last 80 to 100 years, officials said. And, the pre-cast concrete structure will be built to withstand a 500-year storm as per FEMA standards, and will be able to house firefighters and the public during emergencies.
The two-story structure will have a kitchen and office on the ground floor and a dorm and training room on the second floor.
The city had planned to spend $1.5 million to upgrade the firehouse but decided it would be best to build a new one. It approved a $3.5 million bond on Feb. 14 to fund engineering, architectural design, demolition and construction, along with furnishings, fixtures and equipment needed to operate the public safety building.
The firefighters are preparing to move out of the old fire station and into their temporary digs on the 300-block of Surrey Avenue.
Mahaffey Tent Awning Fabric Structures of Memphis, Tennessee, was previously awarded a $103,300 contract to erect the temporary structure to house two fire trucks, an ambulance and a rescue boat.
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