$2M in repairs set for Howard Beach engine company


| mchan@queenscourier.com |

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Structural repairs are slated to soon save one firehouse in Howard Beach, which officials say is in desperate need of rescue.

While the foundation of FDNY Engine Company 331 is made up of 60 percent slab, the rest of the building stands on concrete-encased piles that now suffer from severe corrosion, said David Harney, chief of staff to the Deputy Fire Commissioner.

Since it was built in 1961, the station has only had remedial repairs done once, in 1975.

Now, following more in-depth inspections by the FDNY and NYPD, significant deterioration has been found. According to Harney, some piles were heavily exposed and corroded, while one even snapped entirely.

“Some of the piles that are holding up the firehouse are in such bad condition,” said Robert Wildermuth of Fletcher Thompson Architecture Engineering — the regional interior design firm assigned to the project. “The concrete had become corrupted over time by the salt water, so the steel piles are now more exposed to the water. At this point, our main goal is to repair the firehouse and make sure its standing for a long time to come.”

According to Harney, two marinas once stood behind the firehouse. However, one has since been removed, while the other is heavily dilapidated. The remaining marina dock is used by the NYPD Harbor Adam unit, but Harney said only half of the northern tier is usable.

Officials said the $2 million project — jointly funded by the FDNY and NYPD — will not only repair the structure of the station, it will also make the marina fully functional again.

“The agencies will be able to use 100 percent of the marina, instead of 20 or 30 percent that they have access to now,” Wildermuth said.

Construction, once it begins, is expected to last around nine months, said Wildermuth, who assured residents that services at the Harbor Adam Marina and Engine Company 331 would not be hindered.

According to an agency spokesperson, Harbor Adam will remain “a fully- functional facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

“There will be no effect or delay in response times. In fact, response times may even be better,” the spokesperson said.

FDNY Engine Company 331 services a wide area of Ozone Park, while Harbor Adam covers Jamaica Bay West all the way to the northern point in Brooklyn.

Community Board 10 voted unanimously in favor of the project during its most recent meeting held on March 1.

“This is a very important project to the police and fire departments,” Harney said. “This is something of critical need to both agencies.”