Commissioners ‘Break Ground’ on $1.8M Expansion of EOC, 911 Facility
The Bucks County Commissioners on Thursday joined county Emergency Management officials to break ground on a $1.8 million modernization project at the county’s Emergency Services building in Ivyland.
Slated for completion next year, the enhancements will expand and update the existing Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to create a more efficient work environment optimized for modern disaster response.
“It became clear to all three commissioners early in the pandemic, when this building was ground zero for not just the disaster response, but also for a lot of our public messaging, that this facility badly needed some upgrades,” said county Commissioner Chair Bob Harvie. “Last summer’s flooding, tornadoes and hurricane only underscored that need.”
When activated, the EOC serves as the county’s emergency response nerve center during response and recovery from disasters – both natural and manmade – that require the mobilization and coordination of multiple emergency services, government and nonprofit agencies.
Changes to the facility will triple available meeting spaces and update technology, allowing multiple teams working on different aspects of a disaster response to meet and coordinate simultaneously – including with county 911, as well as outside agencies – without disruption to other efforts.
Planned improvements also include a press briefing room and a designated space for fielding and responding to public inquiry.
“In retrospect it seems obvious that we might need a dedicated space to brief the media and the public, or that more than one team might need a meeting space at one time,” Harvie added. “But unfortunately, that capacity was lacking under this facility’s existing design.”
Construction costs for the project are budgeted at $1.38 million. Technology and security upgrades are estimated to cost another $385,000. The county is paying for the improvements with federal COVID relief and Homeland Security funds.
The Board of Commissioners unanimously approved funding for construction during its May 18 public meeting.
“Each and every service our staff provides from this building is critical to keeping Bucks County safe,” said Emergency Services Director Audrey Kenny. “The Commissioners’ continued investment in us, and shared commitment to our cause empowers our Emergency Services and Emergency Management teams to be the best in the business.”
Construction is expected to last eight to 10 months, during which time the Emergency Operations Center will be housed within the Bucks County Health Department. To minimize disruption to 911 operations, the county’s emergency dispatchers will work out of an alternate facility in Doylestown.
The county has contracted with the following firms on this project: Holstein White, Inc. (Engineer); Matthew V. Piotrowski Architect, LLC (Architect); Magnum, Inc. (General Contractor); Palman Electric, Inc. (Electrical Contractor); Hirschberg Mechanical (Mechanical and Plumbing Contractor); Guy M. Cooper, Inc. (Fire Protection Contractor).