Collingswood officials invite the community to celebrate the town's first responders by welcoming them to their new home with a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, October 9, 2021, at 1:00 pm. Collingswood Fire and Police Departments will kick off the day as they ceremoniously march with the Camden County Emerald Society Pipes and Drums Band from the former firehouse on Collings Avenue to the new combined facility at 434 Haddon Avenue.
The facility brings Collingswood's first responders into the twenty-first century with desperately needed upgrades. The Borough's former police and fire buildings were extremely outdated and did not meet modern police and fire standards or best practices.
"We're excited to celebrate this new chapter in serving our residents. We have worked collaboratively along with residents and as a municipal team to build something that will keep our community safe, give our first responders the tools they need, and fits within the fabric of Collingswood," said Collingswood Mayor James Maley. "And our team did it on time and with no impact on taxes all during a pandemic, not an easy feat," added Maley.
The new 30,000 square foot building allows for greater collaboration between the Police and Fire Departments who were in separate buildings before the construction of the new headquarters. The building was specifically designed to reduce operation and maintenance costs, improve response times, provide better communication and efficiency between the two departments, provide increased community visibility and accessibility for residents, and provide shared multi-purpose areas. The building also features a green roof and energy-efficient building systems. The new headquarters is also now home to Collingswood's Office of Emergency Management, with upgraded technology and communications equipment allowing for better operations in the event of town-wide or regional emergencies.
"Our department has been doing extraordinary work in deficient conditions for a long time," said Collingswood Police Chief Kevin Carey. "This new space allows for improved policing and community relations and we are excited to be working more closely with our public safety counterparts in the Fire Department."
Collingswood residents collaborated as a community on the new facility. Hundreds of residents came out for several planning workshops during a year-long process. Borough officials used these meetings to inform residents regarding the need for the project, how it would be financed, and to gather feedback from the community. The sessions also included tours of the old facilities and exercises to get input from residents about the building's design.
"By engaging and listening to the community throughout the entire design process, we were able to complete a project that all of Collingswood can be proud of," said Borough Commissioner Rob Lewandowski. "The Public Safety Building is a case study on how municipalities and residents can work together to build public projects that benefit all of the community."
The official grand opening ceremony will be held immediately following the first responders' march down Haddon Ave. The program includes remarks by local elected officials and dignitaries, a performance by the Collingswood High School and Middle School Choir, a N.J. State Police flyover, and a ribbon-cutting. After the ribbon-cutting, the Collingswood Fire Department will perform a ceremonial housing called a "push-in" by manually pushing a fire vehicle into the building's apparatus bay. This part of the ceremony is a fire service tradition that dates back to the late 1800s when fire departments used hand-drawn pumpers and horse-drawn equipment. After the ceremony, tours of the building, giveaways, and fire prevention and community policing activities are also planned.
"This is an exciting project for the staff at the Fire Department. We are thrilled to finally have a facility that fits our current and future operations and also allows for new opportunities for expanding our services to the community," said Collingswood Fire Chief Keith Davis.