Bayonne Mayor Mark A. Smith joined U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Congressman Albio Sires, and other officials at a ground-breaking ceremony today for a new fire station on Bayonneâ€™s East Side. The new firehouse is being constructed with $3.56 million in funding from President Barack Obamaâ€™s economic recovery legislation. The building will rise near Route 440 on the western edge of the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, the former Military Ocean Terminal.
Mayor Smith said the fire station project is â€œa win for our citizens and our firefighters.â€ Smith also cited the economic benefits of the construction jobs created for unionized building trades workers at the site. Smith described the future fire station as â€œstate-of-the-art,â€ and said it would offer the Bayonne Fire Department the best in training, equipment, and fire apparatus. The Bayonne mayor thanked Senator Menendez, Senator Frank Lautenberg, and Congressman Sires for providing the leadership needed to get the funding required for construction.
The new fire station will replace a temporary fire station that consists of a tent and trailers. City Council President Terry Ruane thanked the Fire Department for its patience with the temporary facility, which has been in use since November 2008. Ruane said the new facility was designed to be â€œa top-shelfâ€ facility for â€œa top-shelf fire department.â€
Fire Chief Gregory Rogers said the start of construction marked â€œa very important momentâ€ for the Fire Department and the City of Bayonne. Rogers predicted that the new building would be â€œthe best fire station in historyâ€ for Bayonne. He said that the temporary fire facility of tent and trailers was â€œnot very accommodatingâ€ for the 12 to 16 firefighters who use it per shift. Rogers thanked Menendez, Lautenberg, Sires, Smith, and Public Safety Director Jason Oâ€™Donnell for supporting the new fire facility.
Oâ€™Donnell said that today â€œis a proud dayâ€ for the Fire Department, and that Bayonneâ€™s firefighters â€œare among the best in the world.â€
Congressman Sires said, â€œI stand here proudly.â€ He cited the Fire Department training that would take place in the new fire station, which he described as a 50,000 square ft. facility. Sires expressed pride in having worked with Senator Menendez and the city government â€œto make Bayonne more secure.â€
Senator Menendez thanked Bayonneâ€™s firefighters, saying, â€œI really appreciate your service.â€ The senator, himself a former mayor of Union City, observed that the new fire station would provide better coverage and response time for emergencies. He recalled that it was local firefighters and police officers who responded to the scenes of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. â€œWe should not wait until a tragedy to do the right thing,â€ Menendez said. The senator, a member of the U.S. Senateâ€™s Fire Caucus, predicted that the new firehouse would allow the firefighters â€œto perform under their highest abilities.â€ He said that the fire station is â€œan example of how the federal and local government can come together to achieve great things.â€ Menendez explained that the Bayonne fire station received one of the largest federal grants for facilities in the United States, and that 100 construction jobs would be created to complete it. At a time of tight budgets, Menendez observed, â€œthis assistance from the federal government is terribly important.â€ He said, â€œToday, we celebrate government as part of the solution.â€
Speaking after the ceremony, Mayor Smith said, â€œThe City of Bayonne proposed building a new fire house to replace two vacated, antiquated fire stations. We need a permanent, modern, effective facility for the safety of life and property. The federal fire station grant will enable us to do that.â€ Smith concluded, â€œGovernmentâ€™s first responsibility is to protect the people. When this new fire facility is completed, the City of Bayonne will have a greatly improved ability to handle emergencies affecting the waterfront, industrial, commercial, and residential areas of our community. I am very proud to be presiding over the construction of Bayonneâ€™s first new fire station for the 21st century.â€