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Clifton fire station damaged by Ida still out of commission a year later

Clifton Fire Station 1 has been closed for 1 year with no plan to reopen soon.

CLIFTON — A year after the heavy rains brought by the remnants of Hurricane Ida flooded and shut down Fire Station 1, it remains out of commission.

Unusable, the Clifton Avenue firehouse will remain closed for at least the next six months.

On Tuesday, the city opened the latest round of bids for repairs, which include removing utilities such as the hot water heater from the basement and reinstalling them higher, where future floods won’t touch them.

The lowest bid received for the work was for $390,000. A separate bid for roof repairs came in at $52,700.

The city’s engineers and attorney must still review the bids, but the city’s purchasing agent, James Jorgensen, said he hopes the paperwork to move forward will be ready for approval at the Sept. 5 City Council meeting. He said that once the contract is signed, the company with the winning bid has 10 days to get the project started and 150 days to complete it.

The city previously received one bid for both jobs for $696,000. That bid was rejected because it came in much higher than expected, Jorgensen said. After that, bids for the two jobs were taken separately.

“That told me that someone was just throwing it up against the wall to see if it will stick,” Jorgensen said,

Firefighters said ideally the fire station should be back immediately.

Since the station, at First Street about one block from Clifton and Main avenues, was shut down, the engine has been operating out of Fire Station 3, several blocks away and across Main Avenue.

Station 3 is also in an old building, built in the 1920s, and while it has bathrooms for men and women firefighters, it lacks separate quarters. Chief Frank Prezioso said the situation is also not optimal because Station 3 does not have a heated bay for the fire engines, an issue in the cold winter months.

Last winter the engine was housed at Station 6, off Broad Street.

Prezioso said he vividly remembers the night Ida hit. Fire crews were out rescuing residents and motorists during the multiple flash floods.

“By the time they got back here, they found things very difficult,” the chief said.

City Manager Nick Villano said it took just a foot of water to render the station inoperable. He said he’s hopeful that once the contract is awarded, things will progress quickly.

“We got it down to the studs at this point,” Villano said.

Retired Clifton Firefighter Rich DeLotto, who worked out of Fire Station 1 for many years, said it is imperative that work get done as soon as possible. It serves part of the oldest section of the city.

“You got to get there pretty quickly,” DeLotto said, “or else there’s going to be trouble.”

-Story by Matt Fagan for NorthJersey.com

Front Page News – Clifton Journal August 26, 2022
Front Page News – Clifton Journal August 26, 2022
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