A major modernization project is underway in Woodhaven to update equipment and rehabilitate the interior and exterior at the only communication center in Queens handling the borough's emergency fire calls.
The Fire Department is funding a major overhaul at the Queens Communication Office, housed in a building that was built in the 1920s on the intersection of Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard. The facility takes in all incoming fire emergency phone calls from Queens that are routed in from the citywide 911 service as well as calls from fire boxes placed throughout the borough.
"This is a very important facility for Queens," said Stephen Gregory, assistant commissioner for communications. "When it comes back to being again, it will be a state-of-the-art facility."
Gregory said the communication center, one of only three for the entire city, will get new radios, antennas, back-up generators, communication lines and electrical panels before construction is completed in about two years. He said the new communication center will handle both fire and emergency medial dispatches for the borough when it reopens.
During the next few months, some Fire Department employees will be moved to a temporary, on-site office while others will relocate to Brooklyn for the duration of the renovations, Gregory said. He stressed that the construction and shifting of personnel will not lower or jeopardize the Fire Department's ability to react to emergency calls.
"The building is undergoing a complete renovation," Gregory said.
He pointed out that additional underground rooms are being built at the communication center to store large equipment and some of the building's operational systems. Gregory said workers have also examined and better secured the building's foundation.
He said the new facility will be handicapped accessible and have an elevator.
The other two fire communication centers are in the Bronx and Staten Island, Gregory said. He said the Queens facility, which sits adjacent to Forest Park, will be totally rehabilitated by the time all construction ends.
Additional restorative and decorative work is being done by construction workers on the site, Gregory said. He said a majority of the larger renovation plans are being carried out now to make sure Fire Department workers are not displaced in Brooklyn for too long.
Even without any of the reconstruction, the nearly 80-year-old building is a unique piece of architecture in the Woodhaven and Richmond Hill area.
Its main entrance and center is an octagon and has a prominent cupola, which is supplemented by two rectangular wings on both sides of the building. Gregory said workers will eventually upgrade the outside of the site by laying new bricks identical to the original ones placed when the facility was built.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156
©2003 Community News Group
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