Newark’s Aetna Fire Station 8 To Close Sunday

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Aetna Hose, Hook & Ladder Company announced Friday that they will officially cease fire suppression response operations on August 30, 2020, from Fire Station 8 located on Ogletown Road.

Originally placed in service in 1963, Fire Station 8 was placed in operation to better service the eastern side of the fire district. Over the past decade, increased development and congestion as well as declining volunteerism have severely impacted the Department’s ability to staff the station on a routine basis.

Aetna spokesman Jeffery Sands said a 2019 Standard of Cover Consultants report noted that Aetna could improve overall response operations by consolidating stations and focusing on staffing of three stations as opposed to four.

Photo: AHH&L

“With limited funding options available, we must look at a model that can efficiently maintain a minimal fire and EMS response level 24/7 to our entire district” stated Fire Chief Drew Bowerson. “We believe the consolidation of two stations, as well as upgrades to other aging facilities, will assist the Department in continuing to provide Newark and the surrounding community with the level of service that they have come to expect” added President Dan Seador.

 

Photo: AHH&L

In 2018 Aetna announced that there was an agreement to sell the station. Sands confirmed Friday that the property is under contract. In the 2018 announcement, Aetna also said they would be looking for a new location to cover the east side of the district.  While nothing has been finalized, Sands said several locations are being considered regarding a new station location.

Photo: AHH&L

Citizens should not expect longer response times with the closing of Station 8 and this is supported by the standard of cover report, said Sands. Station 8 was not staffed with fire personnel 24/7. Our main station, Station 9, has round the clock staffing with volunteer crews staffing the other stations several nights a week. The closure of Station 8 will shift personnel to other stations helping to consolidate staffing and increase responses, added Sands.

Photo: AHH&L

Aetna’s Strategic Plan is focused on developing an organization and updating facilities to meet the needs of a combination fire department that requires both volunteer, part-time and full time staff to operate on a shift basis at stations. The Department’s plan currently calls for over $12 million dollars in capital expenditures over the next five years between facilities and apparatus to accomplish these goals.

Sands said the capital expenditures would likely cover a new station, a new rescue engine to replace Rescue 8 and a squad, potential expansion/renovation of Station 7, as well as a few new ambulances. Our apparatus replacements are part of a long-range plan with major purchases (such as apparatus) scheduled for every few years to get the best life out of existing trucks and ensure a safe, efficient fleet.

The closing of Station 8 is emotional for some. Obviously there is sadness with many of the Station 8 members said Sands. Many grew up in the station, were married in the hall, and Station 8 has been an important part of their lives. But we look forward to welcoming their addition to the other stations to keep providing outstanding service to the community.

Many Newark residents have been regular visitors to the station for Bingo Night.  Sands said Aetna is in discussions with other facilities in the area to continue hosting bingo until future station plans are finalized. It remains to be seen if we will include a hall with our new station plans. After being shut down for months Aetna’s Bingo recently picked back up and has been operating safely with restrictions.

An Aetna Basic Life Support ambulance and a New Castle County Paramedic unit will continue operations out of the station for the next several months. Medic 9 has no plans to leave Newark and discussions are ongoing about relocating it to another Aetna station once Station 8 officially closes.

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